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"[The bill] would give voluntary spending limits . . . so that we can stop this upward spiral of spending in elections. The second thing it would do is reduce the proportion of contibutions that could come from special interest groups," Senator Boren said on the February 25, 1988 MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. "Not only is too much money going into campaigns but it is also coming from the wrong places."
Although the bill had the support of at least 52 Senators, several Republicans, including Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Robert Dole (R-KS), began to filibuster the legislation. McConnell defended the action on the NewsHour by saying that the reform would not improve the system.
"This is a struggle for partisan advantage," McConnell said. "The Democrats want to put a limit on how many individual contributors you can have in a campaign and thereby snuff out that form of participation because they don't do as well with small cash contributors as we do. So they want to put a cap on how many people can contribute their dollars to campaigns and leave relatively uncontrolled the so-called soft money, that is the in-kind contributions on behalf of labor unions and others principally given to Democrats."
Democrats, angered by the continued filibuster, forced Republicans to stay on the floor around the clock. As time continued, Senate Majority leader Robert Byrd (D-WV) used a little known provision to order the Senators to the floor at 12:30 in the morning. When Republicans refused to heed the order, Byrd used another provision to compel the hold-outs.
"Madame President, I move that the Seargent-at-Arms be instructed to arrest absent senators and bring them to floor," Byrd said.
Many Republicans fled from the Sergeant-at-Arms and at one point Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) was bodily carried onto the floor of the Senate.
A report on the ensuing search was published in The Washington Post on February 25, 1988:
Giugni found Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr (R-CT) in his hideaway. Weicker, a man of formidable size and temper, refused to submit. Giugni, who was later praised by all sides for his poise under fire, decided to look elsewhere.
This brought his to Packwood, who -- having heard that the Giugni posse was on the prowl -- had locked the doors of his Russell Building office, barricading one of them with a chair. But Giugni had a passkey and entered the outer office. Packwood, hearing the intruders, jammed his shoulder against his door just as Giugni was coming through, reinjuring a finger that he had broken two weeks ago in Oregon.
Republicans denounced Senator Byrd's actions and expressed outrage at the arrest order and at Sen. Packwood's injury in particular.
"Senator's Packwood fingers will heal, but I don't know if the United States Senate will heal," said Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) on the floor the next day. "The scar tissue is going very deep at this time in the life of the Senate as a result of what happened yesterday."
But Republicans were not alone in their anger at the night's events.
"Senators went off at a dead sprint. They should have been in Calgary in one of the Olympic events up there," Senator Dale Bumpers angrily declared. "The spectacle of United States Senators running from the Sergeant-at-Arms in order to keep from being compelled to attend the United States Senate is an outrage."
Democrats abandoned the reform bill after the Senate failed to invoke cloture, or end the filibuster, eight times.