Newt Gingrich: Julius Speaker? (6/30/97)
House GOP's One-Week Journey From Turmoil To Unity
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 26) -- In Washington, a week can make a world of difference.
Just last weekend, the 228 House Republicans were in turmoil after a failed attempt to oust Speaker Newt Gingrich. But as this weekend approached, they were publicly and enthusiastically professing their unity -- and their support for Gingrich.
"We trust the speaker, and when I say 'we,' that's 228 members," said Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Rules Committee. "That's different than it's been over the last several weeks or months, as you know. But that's all behind us now."
Ironically, it took the extreme disruption caused by the failed leadership coup to bring about a united front behind Gingrich. And unity is important because the Republicans operate with a narrow 11-vote majority over the Democrats.
"[Gingrich] has caused all of us to examine the importance of a unified leadership team, the importance of us being unified behind him," said Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.). "I think he pointed out to some of the dissidents that, in fact, their plan might have spun out of control and led to the election of a Democrat speaker, which nobody wanted."
Some of the conservative GOP members who wanted Gingrich out were motivated by their conviction that President Clinton was getting the upper hand in budget negotiations between the White House and Republicans in Congress.
Had the approximately 20 GOP dissidents defected on a vote on a budget deal, Republican leaders could have faced an embarrassing defeat, although Democratic support for a budget deal with the White House's blessing probably would have made up the difference.
But now that House Republicans are back singing out of the same hymn book, Republican leaders feel they can deliver on any deal they reach with the president.
The rank and file, for the time being at least, is back in line.
CNN Congressional Correspondent Bob Franken contributed to this report
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