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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- Spring '07