'Toons: Bill Mitchell, Stages of Lame Duckness (11/12/97)
GOP Moderates Spurn Deal On Abortion Provision
Census Issue Delays Conferees As Obey Stalls Proceedings (CQ, 11/11/97)
Clinton Loses First Opportunity After All-Out Fast-Track Push (CQ, 11/11/97)
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Analysis: '97 Was A Mixed
Bag For Congress, Clinton
As next year's midterm elections draw nearer,
the wrangling increases
By Craig Staats/AllPolitics
WASHINGTON (Nov. 17) -- For several months this year, Congress and President Bill Clinton worked together efficiently. There was the balanced-budget agreement, an accomplishment even if the parties oversold it, and the biggest tax cut since Ronald Reagan's presidency.
But as the first session of the 105th Congress concluded last week, increased partisan wrangling seemed to carry the day, maybe because of the approaching '98 midterm elections.
The fact is that elections are won over differences, not consensus-building. And as both major parties look for advantages going into next year's election season, it may be more difficult to gain agreement on issues that Congress will face when members return in January.
Those issues include the proposed national tobacco settlement, NATO expansion, what to do with projected budget surpluses, and substantive changes in how the nation finances its political campaigns. If Clinton gets his way, fast-track trade authority legislation will be back, too.
As the temperature rose on Capitol Hill this fall, Clinton lost the most ground. He saw himself ridiculed as a lame duck as soon as House leaders decided they didn't have the votes and pulled fast-track off the floor. Now the president faces the task of convincing people his second-term agenda still is important and, once again, that he is relevant.
Clinton lost on some other issues, too. Republicans blocked the use of scientific sampling in the 2000 census, and the president managed to make some Democrats angry, too, by his willingness to trade away some census language in an attempt to win approval for fast-track authority. He also lost on money for the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund because of the opposition of anti-abortion lawmakers.
For congressional Republicans, though, what a difference a year or two makes.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich won points for the way he worked with Clinton on the fast-track legislation, and the GOP emerged in a more powerful position, too.
A year ago, Republicans were wary of repeating their government shutdowns of late 1995 and early 1996, and went along with new spending proposed by Clinton. This year, Republicans acted more like they control Congress, which they do.
In Other News:
Monday Nov. 17, 1997
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Reps. Dellums, Fazio Call It Quits
Clinton's Place In History
Babbitt Remains Under The Microscope
Analysis: '97 Was A Mixed Bag For Congress, Clinton
Loan Officer Spotted Clinton's Name On List
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