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104th Congress adjourns

Graphic October 4, 1996
Web posted at: 5:30 p.m. EDT

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House of Representatives adjourned Friday afternoon, bringing to an end the first Republican-controlled session of Congress since 1952. The Senate adjourned for the year on Thursday.

Now, Republicans and Democrats from the 104th Congress begin the final stages of election campaigns that each party hopes will give them control of the House and Senate in January.

Republican Senate leader Trent Lott and Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle made a traditional end-of-session telephone call Thursday to inform President Clinton that the Senate had finished its work, although they later returned to the chamber to complete action on a few other measures.

House members took up those items Friday before ending the session, achieving the earliest congressional adjournment in 20 years.

Lott and Daschle

Mixed emotions

"We've got good news for you," Lott jokingly told the president, in an acknowledgment of the numerous clashes the White House and Congress have had since January 1995 when Republicans took control of both houses of Congress. (22 sec./490K AIFF or WAV sound)

"You guys did such a great job. It's amazing how much was done here in the last few weeks. You should really be proud," said Clinton, who won much of what he wanted in negotiations on a huge bill funding much of the government for the 1997 fiscal year that began Tuesday.

Before the phone call, Lott expressed mixed emotions about being majority leader, a position he took over when Bob Dole resigned in June to run for president. The Mississippi Republican said he enjoyed "the most intense three months of my life," but was glad to see the 104th Congress end. (12 sec./253K AIFF or WAV sound)

icon Lott also cited what he considered major achievements in welfare, health insurance and immigration reform. (16 sec./419K AIFF or WAV sound)

Daschle predicted this week that the new Senate will have a 52-48 Democratic majority, but Lott said Thursday he believed Republicans, now holding a 53-47 edge, would make a net gain of two or three seats.

Among the seats up for grabs are those occupied by 14 senators and 42 representatives who are retiring.

Kennedy filibuster ended

In its final day of business the Senate cleared two major bills for Clinton's signature. It approved a measure authorizing billions of dollars for the Federal Aviation Administration and airport safety after cutting off a filibuster led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, over a provision he said would hamper efforts by Federal Express Corp. truck drivers to unionize.

The FAA measure would also forbid unlicensed pilots from flying in competitions or aeronautic feats, a response to the April death of 7-year-old Jessica Dubroff as she tried to become the youngest pilot to fly cross-country.

The Senate also approved a scaled-down version of a bill to expand a number of national parks after Alaska Republican Frank Murkowski won agreement from the White House to keep timber from the Tongass National Forest flowing to two southeast Alaska sawmills for two years.

With most of its members already home and campaigning for the November 5 election, the House needed unanimous consent to approve the bills it considered Friday. Among those it passed was a measure toughening penalties for using the so-called "date-rape drug" Rohypnol. The tranquilizer is illegal in the United States.

Contentious to the end

The Congress that battled from day one over the budget, social issues and other priorities of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, was contentious to the very end. Despite days of back-room discussions, numerous items desired by one party or the other fell by the wayside.

Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to win approval for about three dozen judgeships and ambassadorships and to name a federal building in Manhattan for Ron Brown, the late Commerce Department secretary who died in a plane crash.

In return, Democrats quashed a GOP bill aimed at reducing paperwork and an effort to have a former Republican Senate aide become a member of the Federal Elections Commission.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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