Think Tank talks to former US Sen. Dennis DeConcini of Arizona
This article originally appeared Sept. 24, 2021.
Dennis DeConcini was U.S. senator for Arizona from 1977 to 1995. He was known as a moderate Democrat, on the conservative side of the Democratic caucus.
The senator shares his perspectives on his time in the Senate and discusses several current issues in light of this experience.
• The role of compromise in the legislative process, has that changed and how? Are some issues (like infrastructure) more inherently compromised than others (for example, voting rights)?
• Does he see Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s posture as similar to his own? Both came from the conservative/moderate wing of the Democratic party.
• DeConcini was at the center of the Panama Canal treaty ratification debate, which was hotly contested and passed despite being strongly opposed by a majority of the population. The “DeConcini amendment” became a focal point of the debate. We talk to him about some of the backstory, notably about a then-private conversation between him and the president of Panama that influenced his actions on the issue. It is a fascinating look back a time when there was not only compromise, but elected officials who acted in the public interest at potential political cost.
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