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Oral History Project

J. Robert Vastine Staff Director, Senate Republican Conference (1971–1975; 1982–1991)

Image of J. Robert Vastine

J. Robert Vastine served as staff director of the Senate Republican Conference from 1985 to 1991, a time when the Conference underwent significant technological change, shifting its focus from newspapers to broadcast media to improve Republican senators’ ability to communicate with their home states. Under his direction, the first microwave satellite antenna was installed on the roof of a Senate office building, linking a studio in the building to television stations across the country. “It didn’t interest me at all for a second how a machine worked,” he explained in his oral history. “It was really just that machine lets you talk to a satellite, and thus to millions of constituents.” Vastine worked on the staffs of Missouri representative Thomas B. Curtis, Illinois senator Charles Percy, and in 1982 became legislative director for Rhode Island senator John Chafee. These interviews recount the resistance encountered in transforming the services that the Conference offered and their eventual adoption by both parties.


Scholarly citation: "J. Robert Vastine, Staff Director, Senate Republican Conference, 1985–1991,” Oral History Interviews, August 27 to October 25, 1993, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.