Rick Santorum on Government Reform

Republican Jr Senator (PA); 2012 presidential frontrunner


Oppose Supreme Court when exceeding constitutional authority

We need a president who's going to fight a court that is abusive, that has superseded their authority. Judicial supremacy is not in the Constitution, and we need a president and a Congress to stand up to a court when it exceeds its constitutional authority.
Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary undercard debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

I fought for conservative judges & filibustered liberal ones

Justice Roberts had a long, good record. He made a bad decision on ObamaCare but he's made a lot of great decisions, too. I don't regret standing up for John Roberts. I fought when I was in the Senate. We fought, for the first time, to defeat justices and judges that Bill Clinton nominated and I fought with President Bush to defend his nominees. So I have been there on the front line, fighting for judges and conservative justices and I will do so as president like none other.
Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary undercard debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

1990s "Gang of Seven": exposed congressional scandals

Rick served in the House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995, and in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 where he was known as one of the most successful government reformers in our history. Rick took on Washington's powerful special interests from the moment he arrived in our nation's Capitol in 1991. He was a member of the "Gang of Seven" that exposed the Congressional Banking and Congressional Post Office scandals.
Source: 2016 presidential campaign website RickSantorum.com, "About" , May 27, 2015

Censure & lawsuit for too many executive actions

Q: Your take on Obama's executive action on immigration?

SANTORUM: What the president did was open up Pandora's box for every president in the future to say, "you know, Congress, if you're not going to work with me, then I'm not going to enforce the law, and beyond that, I'm going to actually create new law."

Q: So if it sets that terrible of a precedent and is unconstitutional, why not impeach?

SANTORUM: I believe that the Republicans--and I hope Democrats--would do something very strong in response.

Q: Like what?

SANTORUM: Well, they're suing the president. And they should go to the Supreme Court immediately.

Q: Court suits take a long time.

SANTORUM: Well, hopefully, you can get an expedited hearing on something of this significance. Secondly, I think they should try to defund this. They have the power in the Congress.

Q: But you're not talking impeachment?

SANTORUM: I know some people have talked about censure.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 23, 2014

Line-item veto needed; spending transparency until then

ROMNEY: I would put a ban on earmarks. It opens the door to excessive spending. We've had thousands of earmarks. They are typically bundled on to other bills.

SANTORUM: You're misrepresenting the facts. What happens in the earmark process was that members of Congress would publicly request these things, put them on paper, and have them allocated, and have them voted on.

ROMNEY: And the president can't veto it?

SANTORUM: He can veto the bill.

ROMNEY: But he can't veto the earmark?

SANTORUM: Well, we tried to do that. I supported a line-item veto.

ROMNEY: That's what I support.

SANTORUM: I agree with you. I support the line-item veto. I voted for a line-item veto so we could do just that. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court struck it down. I would like to go back, as president, again, and give the president the authority to line-item veto. But that's not the issue. The issue is, were they transparent? When I was in the Senate, there was transparency.

Source: CNN's 2012 GOP Debate on eve of Arizona Primary , Feb 22, 2012

Endorsed Arlen Specter to assure conservative Supreme Court

ROMNEY [to Santorum]: The reason we have ObamaCare is because the pro-choice Senator in Pennsylvania that you supported and endorsed, Arlen Specter.

SANTORUM: I supported Arlen Specter because he was going to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee when two to three Supreme Court nominees were going to be available. And maybe all three were going to be out of the conservative block. Arlen Specter asked me to support him; I said "will you support the president's nominees?" We had a 51/49 majority in the Senate. He said "I'll support the president's nominees as chairman." He saved Justice Thomas. Every nominee Arlen Specter supported, passed; Why? Because it gave Democrats cover to vote for it and it gave Republican moderates cover to vote for it. He gave the moderate Republicans and the conservative Democrats the leeway to then support that nominee. Arlen Specter defended Roberts, defended Alito. We have a 5/4 majority on the court, and I did the right thing for our country.

Source: CNN's 2012 GOP Debate on eve of Arizona Primary , Feb 22, 2012

Overturn & freeze all Obama regulations in process

Q: As President, if you could enact any policy to fix the economy without congressional approval what would it be?

A: Refuse to spend the money to implement Obamacare. I would freeze all Obama regulations in process and overturn any antibusiness executive order. I would tell the businesses around the world America is open for business and you have a president who wants you here!

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

DC doesn't work; ratify the Balanced Budget Amendment

Q: As president, how will you avoid continually raising the debt ceiling?

Gingrich: We don't need Obama's "balanced approach" (code for raise taxes). We need a balanced budget.

Santorum: Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment and work for its ratification across the country!

Gingrich: When you balance the budget there is no need to raise the debt ceiling. I am the only candidate who has balanced the budget.

Johnson: I'd avoid continually raising the debt ceiling by not incurring more debt! I'd submit to Congress a balanced budget in 2013, & veto any appropriation that exceeds that budget.

Santorum: DC doesn't work; we need to impose discipline on politicians who want to buy their reelection with your money. BBA is the only way.

Gingrich: We can balance the budget again by growing the economy, cutting spending and reforming government. That's how we did it before. We CAN do it again.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

1997: In-state campaign donation cap $4K; out-of-state $1K

Santorum voted NO on the McCain-Feingold bill in 2002, later calling it "an affront to personal freedoms and liberty." Before, in 1997, Santorum offered an alternative campaign finance reform bill, ensuring that "contributing to campaigns must be completely voluntary." The practical effect of his proposal would have been that unions couldn't use their members' dues on political activity without their permission.

But Santorum has supported a milder form of limits on political speech. Namely, he advocated low contribution limits in his 1997 bill. His proposal actually increased the individual cap from $1,000 to $4,000, but only for in-state residents. Out-of-state donors would still be capped at $1,000. On the Senate floor, Santorum said, "The fact of the matter is, we have low limits. I think we should keep them relatively low, but they should be high enough so people can have some ability to form a little bit of seed corn to start a campaign if they want to run for office."

Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #4:Santorum , Jun 6, 2011

Campaign finance should be purely voluntary

The general philosophy of those of us who oppose the McCain-Feingold approach is that we believe that we can fix the campaign finance system in this country by making it purely voluntary, so that no one is going to be forced to contribute to an election. That is something that you would think is as fundamental as any right that we have in this country, that you should not be forced by your employer, by your union, by your association, or by your family to contribute to anyone the resources that you have worked hard to earn. So, one general tenet is that contributing to campaigns must be completely voluntary. I think this is a tenet you would suspect would be universally shared. It is not universally shared. People in support of McCain-Feingold, by and large--there are some exceptions, but few--do not support the concept that campaign contributions should be voluntary.
Source: Santorum speech in "A Senator Speaks Out", p.110 , Oct 1, 1997

Voted YES on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress.

A motion to table (kill) an amendment to clarify the application of the gift rule to lobbyists. Voting NAY would define employees of lobbying companies as registered lobbyists and therefore subject to the gift ban. Voting YEA would apply the gift ban only to specific people who registered as lobbyists.
Reference: Feingold Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act; Bill S.Amdt.2962 to S.2349 ; vote number 2006-080 on Mar 29, 2006

Voted NO on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.

An amendment to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity. Voting YEA would establish the new office, and voting NAY would keep ethics investigations within the existing Senate Ethics Committee.
Reference: Collins Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act; Bill S.Amdt.3176 to S.2349 ; vote number 2006-077 on Mar 28, 2006

Voted NO on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads.

Vote on passage of H.R. 2356; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Shays-Meehan bill, House equivalent of McCain-Feingoldf bill). Vote to ban “soft money” contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
Reference: Bill HR.2356 ; vote number 2002-54 on Mar 20, 2002

Voted YES on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration.

Motion to Table Schumer Amdt. No. 2937; To permit the use of a signature or personal mark for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters who register by mail, and for other purposes. Voting Yes would kill the amendment. The amendment would allow a signature to identify voters who register by mail, instead of requiring showing photo identification or other proof of residence before being allowed to vote.
Reference: Bill S.565 ; vote number 2002-38 on Feb 27, 2002

Voted NO on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations.

Vote to ban soft money donations to political parties and forbid corporate general funds and union general funds from being spent on issue ads. The bill would increase the individual contribution limit to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000.
Reference: Bill S.27 ; vote number 2001-64 on Apr 2, 2001

Voted YES on funding for National Endowment for the Arts.

This table motion would end debate on an amendment aimed at funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for the motion to table is a vote for NEA funding. [YES to table means supporting the NEA; NO means defunding the NEA].
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)80; N)16; NV)4
Reference: Motion to table Smith Amdt #1569; Bill H.R. 2466 ; vote number 1999-260 on Aug 5, 1999

Voted NO on favoring 1997 McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance.

Support of the campaign finance bill proposed by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Feingold (D-WI).
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)53; N)47
Reference: Campaign Finance Reform Bill; Bill S. 25 ; vote number 1997-267 on Oct 7, 1997

Voted YES on Approving the presidential line-item veto.

Approval of the presidential line-item veto authority.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)69; N)31
Reference: Conference Report on S. 4; Bill S. 4 ; vote number 1996-56 on Mar 27, 1996

Voted NO on banning more types of Congressional gifts.

To exclude certain items from the Congressional Gift Ban.
Status: Amdt Failed Y)39; N)60; NV)1
Reference: Murkowski Amdt to S. 1061; Bill S. 1061 ; vote number 1995-339 on Jul 28, 1995

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Page last updated: Mar 24, 2016