The First 50 Days

Article excerpt

House Republicans are at the halfway point in their pledge to bring 10 major pieces of legislation to a vote within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, and it looks as if they are going to make good on their promise. Whether all of the agenda set out in the Contract With America actually becomes law is another matter, however.

Senate Republicans were not part of the Contract With America pledge, which was devised by House Speaker Newt Gingrich last fall, so there is less fervor in that chamber for some features of the contract. Besides, Senate procedures make it easier for Democrats to block legislation.

Still, one has to be impressed by the speed and unanimity with which House Republicans have worked. Making their handiwork all the more remarkable is that the Contract With America was not a mandate from voters; only 30 percent of them knew anything about it when they went to the polls Nov. 8. If the contract itself evoked little interest, the anti-government sentiments it embodied seemed to reflect the public mood, for Republicans have moved ahead with little public outcry.

So far the new House majority has passed a balanced-budget resolution, a bill giving the president a version of the line-item veto, another greatly restricting unfunded mandates by government, a package of crime bills and a measure limiting the president's ability to place American troops under U. …