Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) mumbled "excuse me" to the door with which he collided and, at some point before sunrise, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) wandered onto the Senate floor in a bright green jogging suit. He said the suit made good pajamas.
Earlier in the night Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.) shuffled to his chair in stocking feet after issuing a resounding Bronx cheer.
There was some gallows humor about the prospects of one or another of the distinguished colleagues keeling over in the night. Sen. James Abourezk (D-S.D.), one of the prime movers of the grueling filibuster, heard about it at his desk.
"Murderer" Sen. William D. Hathaway (D-Maine) gibed at Abourezk.
The grumbling continued, but no ambulances were needed. The U.S. Senate was bleary but intact yesterday morning after a futile all-night effort to get down to the question of abandoning price controls on newly discovered natural gas. For the industry and for consumers, the stakes are billions of dollars in higher prices.
After a twohour recess for breakfast, the senators convened again yesterday at 9:30 a.m. with another all-night session in sight. Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) greeted reporters as cheerily as he could before the tedious roll calls resumed, but he seemed grimly determined to make the Senate work its evil, whatever that might be
"If not today, tomorrow . . . or the next day," Byrd said cautiously. Finally, he said they would keep going until Christmas, if necessary.
Lobbyists stayed up with the legislators throughout the night. The Natural gas Committee, organized with a $600,000 annual budget to work solely for deregulation, set up a post just outside the Senate chamber by commandeering a corridor bench and stacking it with manila envelopes full of position papers on pending amendments. Lying beside the Gas Committee's lobbying ammunition was an open copy of J. P. Donleavy's "The Ginger Man."
"We keep a person sitting at a window seat with the flies," said one obblyst for the committee, which represents more than 100 companies. "Everybody know where he is. We also have a group of runners because there isn't even a phone there . . . One of our biggest problems is keeping the petty cash drawer full for cabs. We have sombody running to the bank twice a day to get money for cab fares. We have about three people doing the running. New and then, we send a high-priced lawyer running up a bundle (of position papers.")
To cope with the staggering pile of 508 inhibiting amendments, sponsored primarily by Abourezk and Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), the gas industry put a computer to work, cranking out "instant economic replay" to a terminal in the Natural Gas Committee's Connecticut Avenue headquarters, with the results quickly taxied to Capitol Hill.
Thus, when deregulation-mined aides for Sens. Lloyd M. Bentsen (D-Tex.) or James B. Pearson (R-Kan.) "come out and ask for information, we're there, we're ready," the lobbyist said. "The thing we have had to fight against is the administration's numbers . . . We also pull together speech material. If someone wants some material on competition in the gas industry. We've got it in the files. We have it here and run it up there."
President Carter wants to extend regulation on the uncontrolled intrastate market and limit the ceiling price for new gas, which now stands at $1.46 per thousnad cubic feet, to $1.75. Abourezk and his allies think even the administration's plan would give the oil and gas industry too much. But a majority of the Senate appears to favor complete deregulation of new natural gas, as Pearson adn Bentsen have proposed.
While lobbyists for the gas industry were clearly the best organized, they were matched in numbers of opposing interests. Energy Secretary James R. Schlesinger Jr. met yesterday afternoon to discuss a possible compromise with Jackson and Byrd in a hideaway conference room in the Capitol.
James Flug of Energy Action, who contends that consumers would be illserved by the administration's plan, busied himself in the Senate's ornate visitors' lobby, briefcase in hand, waiting for senators and their aides to come off the floor.
Lobbyist from the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers popped up from time to time to campaign against deregulation.
For its part, the administration had lobbyists at both ends of the room orking on two different issues.
At one end, a battery including Frank Moore, head of the White House congressional affairs office and Schlesigner adviser Fred Hitz were talking to some Senate staffers, while a high-ranking Federal Energy Administration official was at the other end, pushing a provision for utility rate reform. The Senate is to take up utility rate reform after it finishes with the deregulation issue.
The all-night session that preceded the buttonholling rites was the Senate's first since 1964, when West Virginia's Byrd took to the floor for a 14-hour speech as part of a filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The longest marathon took place in 1969, when a civil rights debate ran from Monday, Feb. 29, through Saturday, March 5, for a total of 125 hours and 31 minutes.
In contrast to these lonely debates, bells dominated this one, summoning senators from their naps on nearby cots and couches for a steady succession of roll calls. All but 12 of the Senate's 100 members answered to their names at a 2:15 a.m. reading of the roster. Eighty-six of them showed up at another roll call an hour later. Many of the senators were seething.
"Barbarie," protested Monority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) "Silly," said Edmund S. Muskie (D-Maine). In the view of Majority Leader Byrd, it was even worse than that.
"It's making the Senate look bad," he said in one floor speech urging an end to the dilatory tactics. "Really, it's an outrage."
When they resumed at 9:30 a.m. yesterday after a brief break, the first few minutes seemed like any other day in the Senate. James B. Allen (D-Ala.) began with a sonorous reading of an environmental impact statement on the Panama Canal treaties to the rapt attention of Sen. Harry F. Byrd (In-Va.). In a back row, Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) streteched out at his desk, reading the back section of The New York Times. Across the aisle, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) pored full-paged spread advertising flights to over the front section, stopping at a Arizona and back for $204.
By 10 a.m., though the deregulation debate had taken over again. For the Senate, it was an old issue. President Truman vetoed an industry-sought gas bill in 1950. In 1956, President Eisenhower vetoed another after an election-year uproar of an industry lobbist's attempt to offer a $2,500 bribe to Sen. Francis Case (R-S.D.).
By the 58th roll call the senators had had a chance to read the press coverage of the night before.It made some of them wince. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) put the blame subtley but unequivocally on Robert Byrd for insisting on the all-night session.
"I don't believe we have to prove our masculinity to the American people by working 24 hours a day," Bumpers said. "I don't believe there's a senator in this body who got more than an hour's sleep last night."
Bob Dole (R-Kan.) interjected that he'd just met a woman who told him "she was sure happy the Senate was open because the zoo was closed."
A few moments later, Alaska's Stevens said he felt there was a need to remove government price controls and "restore the free enterprise system of the United States" to the nergy industry. He said that he feared, for Alaska, that the dread alternative might be nationalization.
Hollings burst back indignantly, with such insistence that Stevens finally left the floor after vainly seeking to interrupt.
"The issue is greed," Hollings thundered of the industry's bid for deregulation. "They're like a sheepdog. They've tasted blood . . . My heavens
By evening, Majority Leader Byrd above. You've not got dependent children before you. You've got the richest industry in the United States."
Had given up the notion of another all-night session, but nitified the senators they would still have to work quite late before going home. They are scheduled to resume again at 9 a.m.
During the day, Abourezk and Metzenabum served notice that they did not intend to let "the forces of deregulation" back them down.
"We are fresh and prepared to stay and look forward to another . . ." Metzenbaum bagan to tell a reporter when Abourezk interrupted to finish the sentence with the pharse, "full 24 hours."