Pacific American-News Journal
Nowemapa/Kekemapa - November/December 1996
Volume 2 Issue 11
Notes from "Capitol Hill"...
It was a mad dash out of the chambers of Capitol Hill on
October 7th for the Members of the 104th Congress. For many, is
wasnt just a race to get to the home district, but a race
to save their political careers with elections looming less than
a month away.
In 1994, the Republican-controlled Congress brought about a
wave of enthusiasm that even boasted of a coming Republican
revolution. Fast forward two years and the talk is now whether
the balance of power will return to the Democrats. Many around
Capitol Hill will surely testify that events over the past two
years were so belligerent and contentious that the term
"mean-spirited" became a cliché. Witness the Members
lambasting each other during the month-long government shutdown.
The hostility may have even contributed to the exodus of many
respected Members such as Senator Claiborne Pell, Senator Paul
Simon, and Representative Patricia Schroeder. And this rancor has
not gone unnoticed by the American public. Speaker Newt Gingrich,
leader of the Republican revolution, has been quoted as saying
the chances of Congress returning to the Democrats is about
50/50. Forget the Presidential race, the races to watch are those
in the House and Senate.
This year, the closest races arent for the empty seats
vacated by the veterans, rather it is the House Freshman
Republican seats that have become the fertile ground for upsets.
Of particular concern, watch the six Freshmen Republican seats in
the State of Washington. Dont be surprised if Rep. Randy
Tate, Rep. Rick White and Rep. George Nethercutt have to run for
their lives with the Rep. Linda Smith, Rep. Jack Metcalf and Rep.
Richard Hasting a short step behind. Also, watch the 6 Freshmen
seats in California and the 2 Freshman seats in Oregon; they are
all up for grabs again.
All was not lost over talk about the elections as Congress,
influenced by election year politics, passed some major
legislation before recess.
Omnibus Appropriations Bill
When Congress cant agree on individual appropriation
bills, House and Senate negotiators construct an Omnibus
Appropriations bill to carry unfinished fiscal spending measures.
Actions as these become necessary when time is running out and it
becomes difficult to pass bills separately. Such was the case
this year when Congress passed an Omnibus Appropriations bill.
Lumped in the bill was the appropriations for Defense, Interior
Foreign Operations, Treasury-Postal Service, Labor-Health and
Human Services, and Commerce-Justice-State. Appropriations is
still unfinished business; however, the government will not shut
down for Christmas this year.
Late Term Abortion Veto Override
With one of the most controversial debates causing the
greatest rift among all citizens, Congress failed to override
President Clintons veto of the Late Term Abortion Ban. The
late term abortion ban would have made it illegal for a doctor to
perform a third trimester abortion unless is was needed to save
the womans life. In order to override a presidential veto,
there must be a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate. The
House voted to override President Clintons veto; however,
the Senate did not gain the necessary 2/3 majority killing the
override attempt. Depending on the character of the 105th
Congress, look for another Late Term Abortion Ban bill to be
Immigration Reform Act
Another explosive issue came during the Immigration Reform Act
debate. As passed, the new law doubles the number of border
patrol agents, establishes a pilot program in t states wherein
employers can voluntarily check the immigration status of their
employees through a too-free system; denies most federal benefits
to illegal aliens; bars most of those convicted of illegally
entering the United States from legally entering the country for
10 years; makes it easier to turn away asylum seekers and
streamlines deportation procedures; and makes it harder for job
applicants to sue employers for hiring discrimination. Left out
of the bill was the amendment that would deny free education to
illegal immigrant children. Leaving out this amendment was the
only way the Republican Congress could have passed this bill.
Dont expect the tightening of the immigration laws to end
with just this, look for future attempts to restrict the
immigration even more.
More Notes from "Capitol Hill"...
The elections results are in! And the verdict of the American
people - is a Democratic President tempered by a Republican
Congress. America mandated a political status quo and refused to
hand either political party authoritative control of both the
executive and legislative branches.
This is the first time since FDR that a Democratic president
was elected to a consecutive term and the first time in 60 years
that the Republicans have earned back-to-back control of the
House. With 435 House races, Republicans maintained majority by
winning 225 seats, Democrats count 205 plus one independent who
generally votes with the Democrats. In the Senate, 34 seats were
up for grabs and the chamber shifted further to the Republicans.
Trent Lott, Senate Majority Leader, will maintain control of the
Senate with 54 seats to the Democrats 45, a net gain of 2
What are some of the interesting facts of the make-over of the
Certainly, one for the records is Sen. Strom Thurman
qualifying as the oldest Senator to win reelection at 93 years
(and looking every bit of it), while Harold Ford Jr. Winds the
youngest Member of Congress at a youthful 26.
Congress will see its obligatory share of Members who are
lawyers, but we now also include in the mix, a psychologist, John
Cooksey; an explosives company executive, Merril Cook; and
Olympian-turned motivational speaker, Jim Ryun; and a retired
Border Patrol Chief, Silvester Reyes.
Money doesnt buy everything. The Democratic Senatorial
candidate for Virginia, Mark Warner, spent a record 8.3 million
of his own money, and still lost.
Despite the rhetoric of both parties claiming historical and
unequivocal victories, the political make-up remains virtually
same as the 104th Congress. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
The 104th Congress overhauled the nations welfare system,
raised the minimum wage, took steps to curb illegal immigration,
established new environmental standards, and guaranteed most
employees health insurance when they lose or leave their jobs. So
whats next for the 105th Congress?
Expect the centrist of Congress, the moderate Republicans and
conservative Democrats, playing a critical role in this next
Congress. From the experience of the last two years of political
grid-lock, both parties have learned to lean on an incremental
agenda which now puts the moderates of both parties in the
drivers seat. This doesnt mean the conservative
Republicans are backing off, in fact, there are a few agenda
items you can count on. Bank on a Balanced Budget Amendment
coming to the floor within the first 100 days. Look for Gingrich
to introduce another Term Limit bill as well as some sort of tax
cut. The Republicans will still gun for killing the Commerce
Department and the Department of Education. Dont think that
the Republicans will let up on Pres. Clinton either, file gate,
whitewater, and campaign finance investigations will continue.
Ethan S.K.K. Cooper, Esq., is a Legislative Assistant to Rep.
Thomas M. Foglietta (D-PA)
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