Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D)|
Last Updated June 22, 2001
seat up 2004
Born: Jan. 1, 1922,
Education: The Citadel, B.A. 1942, U. of SC, LL.B. 1947
Marital Status: married
- Political: SC House of Reps., 1948-54, Speaker Pro-Tem, 1951-54; SC Lt. Gov., 1954-58; SC Gov., 1958-62.
- Professional: Practicing atty., 1947-55, 1963-66.
- Military: Army, 1942-45 (WWII).
DC Office: 125 RSOB
202-224-6121; Fax: 202-224-4293; Web site: hollings.senate.gov
843-727-4525; Columbia,803-765-5731; Greenville,864-233-5366.
- Appropriations: Commerce, Justice, State & Judiciary (Chmn.); Defense; Energy & Water Development; Interior; Labor, HHS & Education; VA, HUD & Independent Agencies.
- Commerce, Science & Transportation (Chmn.): Aviation; Communications; Oceans, Atmosphere & Fisheries.
Ernest Hollings has served more than one-third of a century in the Senate and is still the junior senator from South Carolina--the longest-serving junior senator in history. Hollings grew up in Charleston, in moderate but not aristocratic circumstances, graduated from The Citadel and served in the Army in World War II. Returning home, he worked as a trial lawyer and was elected to the legislature in 1948, at 26, and was a member of the leadership two years later; he was elected governor in 1958, at 36, serving as South Carolina first faced school desegregation, which thanks to his efforts proceeded in an orderly fashion--a considerable achievement at the time. Hollings then spent four years out of office until he beat another former governor in the 1966 special election Senate race. Hollings has one of the quickest and sharpest tongues in the Senate and his instinct for zeroing in on others' weaknesses can be directed at the strong as well as the weak. When twitted by ABC's Sam Donaldson for wearing imported suits when he supported trade restrictions, and asked by Donaldson where he got his suit, he replied, "The same place you bought your wig, Sam."
In the 1980s Hollings concentrated on budget issues, arguing for a budget freeze in the early 1980s. In 1983 and 1984 he ran for president; his candidacy did not get far, but when Congress after a long struggle with Bill Clinton did freeze spending for a year in 1996, balance followed not long after. In 1985 he co-sponsored the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-cutting bill, which did in fact lead to lower deficits. He strongly backed the line-item veto and was one of 19 Senate Democrats to vote for it in 1995. In 1993 he argued for a value-added tax as an alternative to the Clinton tax increases. When the May 1997 budget agreement was reached, Hollings insisted that it would not produce a surplus, since the total of government and intragovernmental debt (including Social Security's Treasury IOUs) would still be rising; he offered to jump off the Capitol dome if the Treasury ever reported a surplus. The offer evidently still stands, though in March 2001 Hollings introduced a budget that would cut taxes in the case of a surplus, defined as a reduction in gross federal debt. Overall, Hollings believes in an activist but disciplined government, disagreeing with Republicans on the former and Democrats on the latter. In the Democratic Senate, his voting record was usually middle-of-the-road.
Hollings spent much of the 1990s working on telecommunications issues, as chairman or ranking minority member on the Commerce Committee and its Communications Subcommittee. Telecom issues were probably the most intellectually demanding and certainly the most heavily lobbied issues in Congress during many of those years, and Hollings managed to keep an even keel--and to get legislation passed. Hollings's instinct is to regulate at the federal level, which puts him at odds with many trends of the times. He was the major opponent of deregulating broadcasting and a major proponent of the 1992 Cable Reregulation Act, the one law on which Congress overrode George Bush's veto. But he has also been the most persistent backer of telecommunications reform, for more competition between long distance companies and the regional Bells. He first raised the issue in the early 1990s, then worked hard as a bill passed the House in 1994; but it died in the Senate because Hollings insisted that regional Bell companies get actual competition in local service before they were permitted to enter the long distance or cable markets. In 1995 and 1996, Hollings worked with new Chairman Larry Pressler to produce a bipartisan bill, which was signed into law in February 1996.
Hollings has worked since then to superintend the deregulatory process, always working (with Ted Stevens and House members Thomas Bliley and Edward Markey) to block the regional Bells from the long distance market and Internet business. He opposed Joel Klein as head of the Antitrust Division after Klein refused to oppose the Bell Atlantic-Nynex merger. He continued to insist on FCC rather than state regulation of the rates regional Bells could charge long distance companies for interconnecting their wires, but at the same time criticized the FCC for its enforcement, or non-enforcement, of the act. He opposed Deutsche Telekom's acquisition of VoiceStream in 2000, on the grounds that the German government owned 43% of DT, more than the 25% limit set in law; his amendment to bar the FCC from waiving the 25% limit was killed in October 2000 after it was criticized by Europeans, but the German government sold off much of its DT stock. He was chief sponsor of bills in 2000 that would have required websites to get explicit permission from consumers before collecting identifying information about them and that would require the FCC to set aside hours in which violent programming would be banned from TV.
Hollings's relations with ranking Republican John McCain, Commerce chairman since 1997, have not always been warm. In May 1998 Hollings vigorously opposed the tobacco bill that McCain passed through the committee 19-1 after it was changed to phase out tobacco price supports; there are many tobacco farmers in the corner of South Carolina around Marlboro and Chesterfield counties. In early 1999 he seemed to mistrust McCain for his presidential candidacy, though he did join with him in sponsoring a bill to require software to block inappropriate material from the Internet wired up to schools under a Gore-backed FCC measure. He was one of three Democrats to oppose the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill in April 2001, though he has long complained that because of the press for campaign funds the Senate "has been so corrupted, it can't deliberate." Twice he has sponsored amendments to the First Amendment to allow Congress to set "reasonable limits" on campaign contributions and spending. In March 1997 he had the support of Minority Leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt; the amendment lost 61-38. In March 2000 it was defeated 67-33.
Hollings has been one of the Senate's strongest opponents of free trade and one of its strongest backers of trial lawyers. On trade, he has doubtless wanted to protect textile jobs in South Carolina, even though they are in long-term decline and the state is booming anyway. He shepherded a textile bill to passage in 1990, only to see it vetoed; he opposed NAFTA and caused GATT to be postponed until after the 1994 elections over the objections of then-Majority Leader George Mitchell, and then voted against. He filibustered the Africa and Caribbean trade bill in November 1999 until cloture was voted 74-23. He delivered a long speech against permanent normal trade relations with China in September 2000 and sought to retain annual review and to drop the words "permanent" and "normal." He remembers his own days as a trial lawyer and regards plaintiff's attorneys as fighters for the rights of the little guy. He opposed the 1999 Y2K relief bill as an infringement on the right to sue. Hollings takes an interest in a variety of other issues. In early 2000 he and Judd Gregg held up international peacekeeping funds in protest against the agreement which left Foday Sankoh in the government of Sierra Leone. He sponsored the 2000 law to create an Oceans Commission. With three other senators, he co-sponsored a 2001 bill to end the yearly drug certification process for Mexico. In the controversy over Bob Jones University in February 2000, he called the school a "national embarrassment." As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he has not been shy about getting money for South Carolina projects--a $1 million bridge to Kiawah Island, $4 million for the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency, $500,000 for the Parker's Ferry Community Center, $9 million for the Charleston Border Patrol Academy, $300,000 each for shrimp research, sea turtle research, and research on the "Charleston bump," an offshore feature that attracts many fish. In the evenly divided Senate, he often casts a key vote. He was one of 42 Democrats to vote against the confirmation of former colleague John Ashcroft in February 2001 and one of six Democrats to vote to repeal OSHA's ergonomics standards in March 2001.
In increasingly Republican South Carolina, Hollings was re-elected by only 50%-47% in 1992 over former Congressman Tommy Harnett; his January 1991 vote against the Gulf war resolution probably hurt. In polls running up to the 1998 election, he trailed former Governor Carroll Campbell, but in January 1998 Campbell decided not to run. Hollings had instead vigorous competition from 4th District Congressman Bob Inglis. Inglis eschewed pork barrel spending--he said that if voters wanted a senator to go on ''a looting misson of the federal treasury, then I don't want the job''--and promised to serve only 12 years, in a state whose senators then had served a total of 76 years. He asked Hollings to join him in a pledge to wage a ''courteous'' campaign. This is not Hollings's style; in mid-October Hollings described Inglis to the Rock Hill Herald in mid-October thusly: ''He finesses all around. He is Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. He's all around the damn clock, so oozing and goozing and such a nice little choirboy and so pleasant, and everybody's rude, and he wants to be courteous. He is a goddamn skunk.'' He apologized the next day, and said he was angered by ''the gross distortions of my record and the callous accusations that have been leveled against me''--obviously staff-written language, without the authentic Hollings touch. Hollings's not-so-secret weapon was money; he outspent Inglis, who promised not to take PAC money, by $4.9 million to $2.1 million. Hollings organized a turnout drive which had a major effect on election day; he also benefited from the lively campaign of gubernatorial candidate Jim Hodges, financed heavily by video poker money. Inglis in contrast was stand-offish to his state party and avoided campaign professionals. His attempts to link Hollings to Bill Clinton were unconvincing, since Hollings had made clear his contempt for Clinton many times; in 1996 he had said, ''Clinton's as popular as AIDS in South Carolina,'' and when the president's ratings rose that same year he said, ''If they reach 60%, then he can start dating again.'' In the first solid Democratic year in South Carolina in nearly 20 years, he won a sixth term 53%-46%. Since Strom Thurmond has promised not to run for re-election in 2002, Hollings stands to become in January 2003 the state's senior senator. In August 2000 he told a cheering South Carolina Democratic convention that he would run for re-election in 2004, when he turns 82; it is not improbable that he could win in a state that re-elected Thurmond at 82, 88 and 94.
|National Journal Ratings|
Key Votes of the 106th Congress
|1. Educ. Savings Accts.
|2. Prescrip. Drug Benefit
|3. Delay Ergonomic Standards
|4. Phase Out Estate Tax
|5. Review Movie Violence
|6. Gun Show Bckgrnd. Checks
| 7. Ban Part.-Birth Abortion||Y|
| 8. Broaden Hate Crimes List
| 9. NATO War in Serbia
|10. Table Cuba Travel Ban
|11. Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty
|12. Perm. Trade with China
||Ernest F. Hollings (D)
|Bob Inglis (R)
||Ernest F. Hollings (D)
||Ernest F. Hollings (D)
|Tommy Hartnett (R)
|1998||Receipts||Receipts from PACs||Expenditures|
|Ernest F. Hollings (D)
|Bob Inglis (R)
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