The private bill to transfer $87.417.67 from the U.S. Treasury to the estate of the Alabama man "killed and partially eaten by a grizzly bear" in Yellowstone Park in 1972 sailed through without dissent.
The resolutions proclaiming May 3 as Sun Day in honor of solar energy, and another day as Memorial Sunday to commemorate fallen firefighters were tackled right away too.
The death penalty bill, a complicated antitrust measure, and a variety of other weightier matters were passed over for another day though.
It went on like that for about an hour last Wednesday morning in the tiny room on the second floor of the Dirksen Office Building as the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first real meeting of the year.
Cigar smoke wafted, aides hovered, senior members jockeyed to get their pet project approved while a quorum still existed.
At the end, Sen. Strom Thurmond (R.S.C.), the ranking minority member, appealed to first-term Sen. John Culver (D-Iowa) to stay a little longer because he needed his vote to get "policemen" added to the firefighter resolution. "We can't get along without you," he said.
A smiling Culver returned: "I like to be in that position," he said. "I hope your memory is as long as mine."
No great issues were resolved at the meeting. None of the reporters present wrote a daily story to record the events. It was routine. It was also American's greatest deliberative body in action.
Sen. James Abourezk (D-S.K.) railed for a time at the poor quality of FBI informants. One had once unjustly reported his son was a gun runner, he said indignantly.
Now that same FBI was passing on information about a U.S. citizen to the Israeli government, which had jailed the visitor as a terrorist, he said.
"The FBI can slander somebody and nobody touches 'em," he complained. "I think it's time for the committee to put a stop to this kind of intellectual terrorism."
At one point he began quoting from a secret session the day before. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) jumped in to suggest maybe that wasn't appropriate.
Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.), leader of Republican questioning of Benjamin R. Civiletti's qualifications to be deputy attorney general, told how important it was to get access to more Justice Department documents. To his apparent surprise, no one objected.
The meeting ended with Thurmond's appeal to Culver. But by the time the "years" were called for, the Iowan had disappeared again.
It didn't matter, Thurmond said. Culver hadn't objected to the amendment. And besides, he added, "It's meaningless resolution."