HARVEY L. SCHANTZ
The most notable political development during the second Clinton administration was the House impeachment of the president. On December 19, 1998, the 105th U.S. House voted two articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton for grand jury perjury in testimony concerning his relations with Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones, and for obstruction of justice in the Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. The 106th U.S. Senate, however, on February 12, 1999, acquitted Clinton on both articles.
In both chambers of Congress, the pattern of the vote demonstrated the importance of congressional political parties and the hazards of divided government for presidents. In the House, the grand jury perjury and obstruction of justice articles of impeachment drew only five Democratic supporters, but was voted for by 223 and 216 Republicans, respectively. In the Senate, neither article of impeachment attracted a single Democratic vote, but they drew 45 and 50 Republicans, respectively. Clearly a Democratic Congress would not have brought Clinton to the brink of removal from office.
A second significant political development was the loss of seats by House Republicans in the 1998 midterm election. In November 1998, the Republicans retained control of the U.S. House, but the five-seat Democratic gain was the first pickup of seats for the president’s party at midterm since 1934, and only the second such gain since 1862. Many congressional Republicans blamed Speaker Newt Gingrich for the loss of seats, and three days after election day, Gingrich declined to run for the Speakership in the newly elected Congress. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) became the new Speaker on January 6, 1999, at the outset of the 106th Congress.
A number of politicians emerged from the 1998 election with heightened prospects for election 2000. In New York State, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton effectively campaigned for successful Democratic senate candidate Charles Schumer, and thus positioned herself for a senate candidacy of her own. Meanwhile, Texas Governor George W. Bush Jr., was reelected by a large margin and quickly became the front-runner for the Republican presidential