REVOLUTION ON HOLD
SEPTEMBER 30, 1996
A marathon of negotiations between Republican leaders and the White House this weekend resulted in a comprehensive spending bill that brings to an end the tumultuous session of the 104th Congress. Republicans decided the dramatic cuts talked about in 1995 would have to wait. Kwame Holman reports on the last days of the 104th, and Margaret Warner reviews the drama of the last two years with congressional experts.
KWAME HOLMAN: The chamber was almost completely empty when the House of Representatives convened today. There is no more pressing business for it to take care of in these waning days of the 104th Congress.
Congressional analysts review the 104th.
In the PBS DEBATE NIGHT Special, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott(R-MS), Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich(R-GA), Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle(D-SD), and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt(D-MO) debate the successes and the failures of the 104th Congress .
Browse the Online NewsHour's coverage of the 104th congress and the 105th congresses.
Sept. 20, 1996:
Two Congressional watchers analyse the election races.
Browse past Shields and Gigot reviews of the 104th congress.
SPOKESMAN: Mr. Speaker, the Texas Rangers are the champions of the American League West. I know I speak for all of Texas when I say congratulations to the Ranger players, coaches, and management.
KWAME HOLMAN: The House took care of its important business Saturday night when it voted overwhelmingly in favor of a massive $389 billion spending bill to fund government programs for the 1997 fiscal year which begins at midnight tonight. The Senate debated the measure today.
SEN. ROBERT BYRD, (D) West Virginia: I hope that the Senate will proceed expeditiously, and that we may be able to complete action on this measure in time to send it to the President and for him to sign it before the hour of midnight.
KWAME HOLMAN: The catch all bill is necessary because Congress has passed only seven of the thirteen major spending bills for the next fiscal year.
SEN. TED STEVENS, (R) Alaska: As the Senator from West Virginia just said, this bill absolutely must be signed tonight.
KWAME HOLMAN: And President Clinton is expected to sign it, particularly since Congress added to the bill an additional $6 ½ billion the President wanted for schools, anti-drug and anti-terrorism programs. Republicans this year were resigned to giving the President much of what he wants on such spending matters, rather than hold firm and possibly force another government shutdown.
SEN. JAMES INHOFE, (R) Oklahoma: It all just goes back to this horrible fear that we seem to be laboring under that if we don’t do this and we pass our appropriation bills as we would normally do it through the deliberative process and the President vetoes these and we come to an impasse, then government will stop at the end of the fiscal year, which has taken place at this historic time right now, and the Republicans will be responsible for it.
KWAME HOLMAN: During a debate televised nationwide on PBS last night, congressional leaders expressed their regret over last year’s government shutdown.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT, Minority Leader: We should never ever shut the government down as was done last year for three weeks. I know that there was a desire to put pressure on the President to get him to sign the budget the Republicans had, but it was wrong. It was irresponsible. Taxpayers paid money for those services, and they shouldn’t have been denied. For our part, we will never, ever shut the government down.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE, Minority Leader: I, I recall, as I guess we all do, that Oval Office series of negotiations where at one point you indicated to the President you felt that while he had the veto, you had the ability to shut the government down. That cost $1.4 billion. That was--we were shut down for 27 days. I hope we could all agree--and I guess this is my question--will you agree with us that in the 105th Congress, regardless of the circumstances, you’ll never shut the government down again?
REP. NEWT GINGRICH, Speaker of the House: Well, listen, just two quick things.
SEN. TRENT LOTT, Majority Leader: Go ahead.
REP. GINGRICH: But since this is directly tied to me, uh, first of all, we were all sort of surprised to learn from Dick Morris’s comments that he’d planned for five months, as he said it--
SEN. DASCHLE: Did he call you about that, Trent?
REP. GINGRICH: --the President--
SEN. LOTT: Yeah. He told me he’d planned it for months. (laughter among group)
REP. GINGRICH: --the President’s former adviser, as you know. Secondly, I think we did learn a lot out of that. And I think it’s a tribute, the bipartisan way we’ve passed things recently, that we have learned a lot. But I also think it’s important to recognize that the American people do want a balanced budget, they do want government coming under control. And frankly, we were gratified when the President said this January that the era of big government is over. We’re just trying to help shrink it some, and I think that’s part of what we’re all about.
SEN. LOTT: Well, as a matter of fact, I might say that if the Senate does its job tomorrow, we’ll complete the work the House completed last night. Then there won’t be any threats of any kind of shutdown. But just remember, when the President vetoed that bill and shut it down, what was it he was vetoing? He was vetoing the first balanced budget in 26 years. He was vetoing tax relief for the American people. He was vetoing legitimate entitlement reform, so just remember, the President vetoed those--and it included a lot of other things--including eliminating the marriage penalty for young couples when they get married. But I tell you what. The proof is in the pudding, Jim, because we have produced--we started off with these common sense reforms, we made them apply to ourselves. We cut the numbers of subcommittees and committees. We cut spending on Congress, itself, we made the laws apply to ourselves, as Newt mentioned. We stopped unfunded federal mandates where the federal government was telling people, oh, you’ve got to do this, do that, but by the way, how you pay for it is your problem. And one other thing, when you talk about governance, we also are going to pass tomorrow night after a lot of effort on our part and illegal immigration bill. You can’t have governance if you can’t control your borders. In America, we have a tremendous problem with illegal immigrants. And they’re coming in and they’re getting into our, our welfare systems and our food stamp systems, and they’re staying there forever. If we’re going to have genuine governance, we’d better learn how to control our own borders. And we’re going to pass a bill under our leadership that will get that job done.
REP. GEPHARDT: Well, I don’t think Democrats take a back seat to anybody on getting the budget into balance. The budget we passed cut spending more than you cut it in the last two years. We also got the budget down from over $300 billion, where it was when President Clinton came in, to now about $100 billion. And we both have plans--they’re different for getting it the rest of the way--to balance the budget. I’m glad to hear that we’re not going to see another government shutdown. Tom Delay was quoted in the paper today as saying if Bob Dole gets Tom Delay was quoted in the paper today as saying if Bob Dole gets elected and the Republicans retain their majority, there will be a second revolution. I don’t think we need a second revolution. I think that scares people, and I don’t think we need to do that.
KWAME HOLMAN: This evening, the Senate continued to debate the massive government spending bill and until it votes and passes the measure, some members of the House must stay in town in the unlikely event the Senate makes changes in the bill.
REP. STENY HOYER, (D) Maryland: Can the gentleman sort of enlighten as to where the Senate might stand, what the prospects are of making sure that we pass something by midnight tonight so that we don’t put federal employees and the federal government to the test of shutting down and opening up?
SPOKESMAN: Let me just say I was about to pose the same question to Heath, but why don’t you and I just kind of lurk through the halls and kind of give ‘em a little push and make sure it happens.
REP. STENY HOYER: Well, I’m sure they’ll look forward to that.
KWAME HOLMAN: Once Congress does adjourn this week, it won’t return until January when the members of the new 105th Congress will be sworn in.