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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: William Stuart Symington (1901–88)
QUOTATION: There are four categories of voting on the floor of the Senate. The first are those who have been described as ones who can hear the farthest drum before the cry of a single hungry child. Then there is the group who can hear every child, whether he is hungry or not, before they can hear a single drum. Then you have a third group, who say, “Nothing can happen to the almighty dollar, so we will vote for all the children and all the drums.” The time has come when we must have some priorities with respect to the way we are allocating our steadily decreasing resources, else it should be clear to everybody—that the economy of the United States could well be destroyed.
ATTRIBUTION: Senator STUART SYMINGTON, remarks in the Senate, November 23, 1971.—Congressional Record, vol. 117, p. 2896.

The theme of this was used earlier by Herbert Block, Herblock Gallery, p. 9 (1968): “This is particularly true of those bellicose Republican ‘conservatives’ and Dixiecrats who are more ready to lay down lives than prejudices and who can hear the most distant drum more clearly than the cry of a hungry child in the street.”
SUBJECTS: Government spending