Since June 3, the Senate has been debating the nation's campaign finance system and S.2, the Senatorial Election Campaign Act of 1987, which would limit contributions from political action committees and provide for public financing to Senate candidates who agree to spending limits. The following remarks were excerpted from the Congressional Record.

Our electoral system is in crisis and badly in need of overhaul. What we see today is the perception of the undue influence of money and those who have it and contribute it to congressional campaigns . . . . If I were starting out today, a person with a background like mine -- grocerman, welder, produce salesman, butcher, small businessman -- could not hope to raise the large sums of money needed for today's campaigns . . . . There is a danger in this: Not only could the U.S. Congress become the exclusive domain of the very wealthy, the common man could be removed from effectively competing in the political arena . . . . -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) June 3

We are all called upon, no matter which side of this aisle on which we may be sitting, to safeguard the constitutional process of the United States, to safeguard the integrity of this system . . . . I see a trend under way that is going to destroy the democratic process if we do not something about it. It is absolutely eroding the integrity of the election process, and if we cannot read in the 37 percent voter turnout in the last election alienation and deep concern on the part of the American people about what is going on in our political system, we have to be blind to what is going on in the hearts and minds of our own constituents. -- Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.) June 3

I have never in all my years in public life ever promised anyone anything for a campaign contribution. But I will later today end up in New York City. Let us say that I get back to my hotel room at midnight. There are 20 phone calls waiting for me, 19 of those phone calls from names I do not recognize; the 20th is from someone who gave me a $500 campaign contribution.

Now, at midnight, I am not going to make 20 phone calls. I might make one. Which one of those 20 am I going to make? We all know the answer. Because you feel a sense of gratitude to people who are generous enough and, obviously, wise enough to contribute to your campaign.

But it means that the financially articulate have an inordinate access to policymakers; that the person who lives in West Virginia or Florida or Kentucky or Idaho or Illinois who is out of work does not have the same influence and power on this body that someone who has the ability to make heavy campaign contributions has. -- Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) June 4

There have been a lot of discussions in the last couple of days about the cost of this legislation and how this nation cannot afford public financing of Senate campaigns. This bill would cost less than $50 million a year. That is less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of total federal spending. It is only one-fifth of what taxpayers spent on an annual basis to fund the political contribution tax credit that was recently repealed as part of tax reform. It is less than the annual cost of military bands. It is less than one-half the annual federal expenditures to subsidize the production of honey in the United States. Nevertheless, opponents of public financing of Senate campaigns maintain the country cannot afford the cost. -- Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) June 4

The amount of money being spent on political campaigns in America is a pittance compared to what is being spent by the consumers of this country on a variety of other products much less important to the country than choosing our elected officials. I might say, on the spending issue, the top six cosmetic manufacturers spent $882.7 million on ads in 1985 alone; just on cosmetics. . . . . Quaker Oats . . . will spend $20 million advertising just Ken-L-Ration and Kibbles 'n Bits -- $20 million on that. -- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) June 4

My response to that simply would be that we are not talking about dog food, nor are we talking about face makeup. We are talking about 33 people who . . . spent $200 million, which is the figure that you used, compared to 260 million people that are spending money on other things. I, frankly, do not think it is a good comparison. -- Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) June 4

When I ran for governor the first time, I forget how many thousands of contributions we got but the average contribution was less than $25, and everyone in the state felt they had a piece of the new governor, Governor Bumpers, and they felt that nobody owned too big a piece because nobody had really given that much money in one chunk . . . . I tell you that story just to dramatize the difference now and then and I promise you that that would not be possible today . . . . This last election, it cost $2,000 {in Little Rock, Ark.} for 30 seconds on the Cosby Show. If you want to be reelected, you better use those 30-second spots on the Cosby Show. -- Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) June 4

Public financing will help us by imposing limits on total campaign spending and by reducing the importance of money from special interest groups. This is a new position for me . . . . If we do not act to reform our system of financing campaigns, we will soon find ourselves with a system in which the people have very little say about who their representatives are. -- Sen. John C. Stennis (D-Miss.) June 5

It is inconceivable to me that when the payment of interest on our national debt is the third largest item in the federal budget, a proposal to remove nearly $100 million in funds from the public treasury and to distribute those funds to congressional candidates is given the serious consideration of this body . . . . The underlying premise of S.2 is that political action committees are bad, and therefore, PAC contributions should be discouraged. I disagree with that premise. PACs encourage the participation of millions of individuals who have limited financial resources to contribute to candidates of their choice. -- Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) June 5

In debating this issue I feel a little bit like a mosquito in a nudist colony -- not knowing exactly what part of the body to attack . . . . The reason we have seen the bait -- PAC reform -- and switch -- taxpayer financing of elections -- is that the proponents of this bill know that the American people oppose taxpayer funding of elections . . . . There is something very un-American about the whole approach . . . . -- Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) June 9

For years now, this body has struggled to trim the budget. We have cut housing, we have cut feeding, we have cut education, we have scrimped on health care . . . . But, lo and behold, here we go proposing a half a billion dollars, $500 million, to finance our House and Senate election campaigns. That is what the Byrd-Boren bill will cost . . . . We cannot find money for the needs of the people, but we can find a half a billion taxpayer bucks to put us back in Congress. This is the damnedest exercise in arrogance I have seen in politics. -- Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) June 9

If we are so concerned about the cost of campaigns and all the influences in campaigns . . . then why are we not addressing soft money? What about all the phone banks that organized labor uses in Democratic campaigns . . . . It is not just labor unions. It is corporations and others, and we are not trying to drive true volunteers off the political scene. -- Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) June 16

I think it time that we draw the line and say for the sake of this institution, and for the sake of representative democracy, we have to do something about this money problem. There is a scandal out there waiting to happen. We all know that it is coming sooner or later. -- Byrd June 16

We seem to go in circles here. I guess I came to Congress in 1974 as a Watergate baby. We are ignoring some of the reports of the Watergate Select Committee in turning to public financing . . . . The reason the Watergate Select Committee recommended as it did was because, if the federal government gets in the business of financing elections, it will be the federal government deciding who the candidates are, what the limits are . . . . The Watergate committee was afraid of the power of the IRS. They saw abuses of the federal government using federal agencies in the political process. One of their strongest recommendations was against starting the practice of using taxpayers' dollars in federal campaigns. -- Sen. Larry Pressler, (R-S.D.) June 18