Two New Leaders of the House
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SERGEANT-AT- ARMS: Mr. Clerk, the Speaker-elect, Dennis Hastert,
Representative from Illinois and the escort committee.
SUAREZ: On opening day of the 108th Congress, Dennis Hastert was
re-elected to his third term as Speaker of the House, but he was
escorted to the podium by two new party leaders. The Republican
majority leader, Tom DeLay is a staunch conservative from Texas.
TOM DELAY: Well, I'm very passionate about what I believe in and
some people think I'm a little too aggressive in, with that passion,
but, yes, I have things I deeply believe in, and I speak out on
them, and I use my position to further that agenda.
SUAREZ: The incoming Democratic minority leader is Nancy Pelosi
from California, a liberal, and the first woman in Congress ever
to lead her party.
NANCY PELOSI: My role is to lead the House Democrats, the most
diverse group of people in government. We have a large number
of African Americans. We have a large Hispanic Caucus. We have
the Asian Pacific American Caucus. We have openly gay people.
We have a caucus that is representative of America, and when I
go to the table I'm the only one who can represent the great diversity
and strength of our country in that regard.
SUAREZ: Despite their strong political leanings, both leaders
speak well of each other.
NANCY PELOSI: We appreciate where each other is coming from philosophically
and understand each other's tactics. But I--I think he would agree
when I say that we are friends.
TOM DELAY: I have the utmost respect for her. She's a very good
spokesman for the Democrat Party and what they believe in. She
works very hard, and she's a very, very worthy opponent.
SUAREZ: But the two already have drawn their battle lines, particularly
over the president's tax cut proposals.
NANCY PELOSI: I think what the president is proposing in his economic
plan is reckless. I think it's really dangerous to our economic
strength. It takes, at random, tax cuts that the president wants
to have, favoring, in a disproportionate way, the wealthiest households
in America in a way that far exceeds the taxes that the people
TOM DELAY: History has shown, when John Kennedy cut taxes, when
Coolidge cut taxes, when Ronald Reagan cut taxes, actually, the
revenues to the government went up. Deficits are caused by the
government spending too much money, and so what we have to concentrate
on is what is the policy that will get the economy growing again
so that the revenues to the government come in, in larger amounts,
and if we hold the line on spending, we will tackle these deficits,
and we'll get back to balancing the budget again.
SUAREZ: DeLay was the picture of a loving grandfather on Congress'
TOM DELAY: I present this velvet hammer to...
SUAREZ: But members on both sides of the aisle have dubbed him
"The Hammer." He is known for being a fierce partisan
and a ruthless party whip.
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS: Tom DeLay loves the identification as "The
Hammer." And I smile. Because Tom DeLay's success has been
through his convictions and his attempts to argue that we need
to work together. And I know he'd like to have you think he's
fearsome, but I don't think he is. I don't see the hammer.
SUAREZ: Moderate Republican Christopher Shays got valentines for
co-sponsoring campaign finance reform legislation last year. But
he also felt DeLay's wrath when it passed over the GOP's opposition.
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS: If ever I got a punch, it would be in my stomach
and not in my back. And I know where he's coming from and so does
everyone else. And so he's strongly opposed to it. I think he
respected the way in which I handled the debate. I think he said
to me, Chris, there's going to be consequences for this.
SUAREZ: And so Shays wasn't surprised to be passed over when it
came time to fill the chairmanship of the Government Reform Committee
earlier this month despite being the committee's senior Republican.
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS: I knew that. He didn't have to tell me. But
he was telling me that there were other members who would want
there to be some consequences.
SUAREZ: DeLay had been an exterminator before being elected to
Congress in 1985. He posed comically for this photo looking for
pests in his new congressional office.
southwest from Houston, DeLay's predominantly Republican suburban
district takes in Sugar Land, the home of Imperial Sugar and the
bedroom communities around it. DeLay's
home overlooks the Sweetwater Country Club -- his family prefers
living there to Washington. He's a regular at the First Baptist
Church and that includes participating in a men's prayer and self-improvement
might say Nancy Pelosi's political acumen came with her genes.
Her father, Thomas D'Allessandro, was a congressman from Baltimore
when she was born. He later became the city's mayor in the 1950's.
Her brother, Tommy Jr., was Baltimore mayor in the 1970's.
San Francisco district includes this exclusive neighborhood where
she lives with her husband, Paul, a wealthy businessman. While
raising five children, Pelosi dove into California politics as
a prodigious fund-raiser and campaigner for others in the Democratic
BARBARA MIKULSKI: And I was out there going earring to earring
with Linda Chavez... She had Ronald Reagan and I had Nancy Pelosi.
RAY SUAREZ: The party asked Pelosi to run for Congress herself
in 1987. She's won every election since and was the overwhelming
choice to succeed Dick Gephardt this year as House Democratic
she'll have a challenge satisfying the party's different factions.
For instance, the moderate and conservative "Blue Dogs"
were lackluster in their support for Pelosi's leadership bid,
while the Black Caucus was disappointed Pelosi passed over their
members for her leadership teams. Harold Ford of Tennessee is
a member of both groups. He even challenged for the Democratic
leader's job, but was defeated.
HAROLD FORD, Jr.: If you are going to be effective here in the
Congress and politics in general, you have to govern from the
middle. It's hard to govern from the far right and it's hard to
govern from the far left. I think our new leader recognizes that.
I think the leadership race that we went through here in Congress
on the Democratic side was a healthy and valuable experience for
all of us. I think it highlighted some of the challenges we face
as a party. Many of the opportunities we can seize if we are willing
to think and differ and broader -some would say outside-the-box
terms to bring about solutions to the problems.
SUAREZ: As for Hastert, the former high school wrestling coach
plays a more non-partisan role in the House, he reminded the Congress
that he's Speaker of the whole House -- Republicans and Democrats
DENNIS HASTERT: My door will always be open to you as we work
together in this 108th Congress. And to all Members of this House,
I say thank you for giving me the great honor to serve once again
as your speaker.
SUAREZ: Hastert says the slim Republican majority in the House
does not give him the sweeping powers some of his predecessors
DENNIS HASTERT: We run Congress and have run Congress with a margin
of six votes. So, you know, we don't have a lot of time to be
imperious over anybody. You had to constantly bring your edges
together so that you could get things done.
now, you know, we've doubled our margin. We have a margin of almost
12 votes. That still doesn't give you, you know, 150 votes to
play with to roll over people, to take their offices away, to,
you know, blow up their parking spots. I mean that's what people
used to do back then. You can't do that, because you got to turn
around and work with somebody who voted against you on the next
bill, and that might be five minutes later.
SUAREZ: The speaker says creating harmony in the House is only
part of job. Another is to be sure the Senate and the White House
are on board as the Republican legislative agenda is pieced together.