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img061 - 124 Politic by 0th Mm At the same time that he was...

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Unformatted text preview: 124 Politic; by 0th Mm At the same time that he was compelling Republicans to sign" this contract, Gingrich told a group of lobbyists that after Repub- _‘ licans took control of Congress, the GOP would launch legislative ,r' investigations to look into wrongdoing in the executive branch. Just as Democratic Congresses had used their power to investigate Republican presidents, so a Republican Congress would use its power to investigate the conduct of the Clinton presidency. In the first days of the 104th Congress, Gingrich moved quickly , to consolidate his power and put forth his initial legislative agenda. Gingrich’s first move was to reorganize the House in a way that would eradicate any vestiges of Democratic influence, streamline f the Chamber’s operations, and significantly expand the power of the . Speaker.23 The new Speaker showed little inclination to compro- . mise with the Democrats and began his term by placing strict lim~ x its on Democratic representation on major House committees. “ ii‘r'" Gingrich began his “housecleaning” by breaching the time— , :3 honored seniority rule and appointing committee chairs who were 1‘ Em, likely to be energetic and loyal. At his behest, the Republican lead- 1 ' ership selected Henry Hyde of Illinois rather than the more senior , committee Republican, Carlos Moorhead of California, to chair the 3‘ House Judiciary Committee. Similarly, Gingrich named the fifth- .: ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, Bob ‘- Livingston of Louisiana, to chair that important panel. Thomas '7 Bliley of Virginia, the second-ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee (renamed Commerce), was given the , chair over the most senior GOP member. In addition, three fresh- 3 men, Tom Davis (Virginia), David McIntosh (Indiana), and Linda , ii Smith (Washington), were slated to head congressional subcom- ,. mittees.24 In each of these cases, Republican leaders were deter- : mined to appoint an active committee chair who would push hard for the leadership's program, even if that meant violating tradition. i, ’ In addition to overriding seniority in their appointment of com- ' mittee chairs, Gingrich and the Republican leaders moved to re» . organize partially the committee system itself, Three House f committees—Post Office, District of Columbia, and Merchant iv The Republican Offmive I 25 Marine and Fisheries—were eliminated, and their functions trans— ferred to other committees. Nominally these committees were eliminated to streamline House operations. Political considera- tions also played a role, however; the three committees were closely linked to traditionally Democratic constituencies. The Republican leadership also diminished the size of most committees and eliminated 25 of the House's 115 subcommittees. Both these changes were moves to increase the power of commit— tee chairs and, ultimately, of the Speaker who appointed them. In a more symbolic move, the Republicans renamed a number of committees and made minor changes in their jurisdictions. For example, the Education and labor Committee was renamed Eco- nomic and Educational Opportunities to emphasize a new, free market orientation. Similarly, Government Operations was re- named Government Reform and Oversight to emphasize its focus on improving, rather than merely supervising, the work of the government. Next, the new Republican House leadership eliminated the budgets, staffs, and offices of all House caucuses (formally known as Legislative Service Organizations, or LSOs). Several of the most effective LSOS, including the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, and the Women's Caucus, were closely tied to the Democratic party. One LSO, the Democratic Study Group, had employed eigh- teen full-time analysts to help congressional Democrats evaluate proposed and pending legislation. Congress had been spending roughly four million dollars per year to support caucus activities. Republicans also moved to fire hundreds of Democratic com- mittee staffers. Most did not even receive severance pay.25 At the same time Republicans planned sharp cuts in the budgets and staffs of three of the four congressional staff agencies: the General Accounting Office, the Library of Congress, and the Congressional Budget Office. The fourth, the Office of Technology Assessment, was disbanded altogether. Although these agencies were officiaily nonpartisan, Republicans believed that they had become too closely identified with the Democrats who had ruled Congress for decades. ...
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