Heard on the Hill

Flashback Friday: Staff a “Critical Burden”?

Sen. Alan Simpson said so in 1988

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R-Wyo., came from a political family. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

In 1988, Sen. Alan K. Simpson didn’t hold back when revealing his opinion about congressional staffers.

“The point is we are elected senators, and we should try to do our business, occasionally, with ourselves and among ourselves and between ourselves. Even though the staff is critically important, it is also a critical burden upon us in many situations,” the Wyoming Republican said on the Senate floor.

“I say that without any gasping from the back of the chamber which will accompany such a remark, but it is very true. You cannot live with them and you cannot live without them,” he continued.

“Back of the chamber” is a reference to where staffers sit on the Senate floor, which is against the wall opposite to where the presiding senator sits.

At the time, Simpson had been in the Senate for a decade and was the Republican whip.

He was never a staffer himself, but his father, Milward Simpson, served from 1962 to 1967 in the same seat as him. (He also served a term as governor.) And his brother, Peter K. Simpson, was a Wyoming state representative from 1981 to 1984 and lost a bid for governor in 1986.

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