Senator Al contacted Sharkhunters in 1996 with
questions pertaining to certain German U-Boats and their history, and he
became a Member at that time.
D'Amato drew the nickname Senator
Pothole for his delivery
of "constituent services," helping citizens with their individual cases.
While some New Yorkers meant the nickname as a
pejorative, many others saw it as a positive affirmation of his
attention to getting things done.
Senator D'Amato also holds the record for the second
and seventh longest filibusters ever
recorded in the United States Senate. He is remembered for his unique
and rather comical filibusters. In 1986, a filibuster he conducted
against a military bill lasted 23 hours, 30 minutes and he was known for
reading the District of Columbia phone
book during a filibuster. In 1992, D'Amato filibustered a bill that
would have caused the loss of 750 jobs in upstate New York by singing
"South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)".
Senator D'Amato is also remembered for presenting a
poster of a "Taxasaurus Rex," which he then stabbed with an oversized
He was a member of the President's Commission on
Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST), which was set up in September
1989 to review and report on aviation security policy in light of the
sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103
on December 21, 1988.
While he was in office, he was chair of the
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs,
and was a member of the Senate
Finance Committee. As a member of the former, he became a leading
critic of the Clinton administration regarding
the Whitewater scandal, and
during 1995 and 1996 chaired the hearings-heavy
Senate Special Whitewater Committee.
D'Amato was very influential in New York
Republican politics, and widely considered the "boss" of the state GOP
during his Senate years. For example, he played a leading role in
recruiting George Pataki and
securing him the Republican nomination in the gubernatorial race of
D'Amato was known for being fairly
conservative, a reflection of strongly conservative
Nassau County and Long Island
but remains very popular among some of New York's liberal voters. He
strongly supported the conservative positions of his party on "law and
order" issues such as capital
punishment and harsh penalties for drug offenses. On some issues,
he agreed with the opposition: in 1993, D'Amato was one of only three
Republicans to vote in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the
U.S. military. In 1996, he was among the minority of Republicans to vote
to extend federal protections against employment discrimination to gays
In the 1998
d'Amato was endorsed by the
Human Rights Campaign over socially liberal Democratic
Congressman Charles Schumer.
On labor issues
too, he frequently sided with Democrats. His 55% to 45% 1998 loss was
attributed to a lack of support among moderate voters in
New York City, site of opponent Charles Schumer's US
Congressional district. His loss was also partially attributed to
reports arising from D'Amato's use of the term "putzhead" (a
Yiddish vulgarity) to refer to Schumer.