Jones came to Washington in 1960 as an intern for Sen. Richard B. Russell (D-Ga.), rising to become Russell’s special assistant. He then joined the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
He served as the staff director of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, as well as staff director of the full Committee on Appropriations. He was the principal Senate staff member handling appropriations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy, the water resource functions of the Department of Interior and several other federal agencies. Jones retired from the Senate in 1997 as clerk of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
Jones was known in Congress and in the scientific community as a fierce advocate for basic-science funding and for his skills at navigating a tight spending climate and the legislative calendar to achieve his goals. At staff level, he spearheaded efforts to provide funds for high-energy physics research initiatives such as the superconducting supercollider, the Stanford Linear Accelerator, and the National Ignition Facility.
At the time of his death, Jones was a senior government affairs adviser at Steptoe & Johnson. He had been a partner at Johnston & Associates, a public affairs consulting company founded by former Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), before it was acquired by Steptoe.
"Proctor was the quintessential Senate staffer. When I handled a bill on the floor, people would approach Proctor with questions because, first, they knew he had the answer, but also because they knew they could trust him," Johnston says. "He just knew it all."