Conservative Reformers: The Republican Freshmen and the Lessons of the 104th Congress

By Nicol C. Rae | Go to book overview

Preface

In November 1994 the Republican Party won control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. This new Republican Congress claimed the 1994 election as a mandate for dramatic change in American politics in terms of both public policy and institutional reform, and the role of "guardians" of that mandate fell naturally on the seventy-three Republican House freshmen whose election had made the Republican majority possible. The House Republican freshman class was distinctive both in terms of its large size and the unusual degree of attention and influence that the freshmen received.

This book is about those Republican freshmen and their impact on the American political system. It has three major themes.

The first theme is the extent to which the Republican freshmen were able to fulfill the popular demand for reform of Congress and end the long-term erosion in Congress's power and authority within the American political system. Part of the explanation for the electoral success of the freshmen in 1994 and the high level of public recognition that they subsequently achieved lay in their claim to be political "outsiders" who would reform a Congress that had become increasingly "corrupt" under Democratic rule. While the Republicans did achieve a great deal in terms of reforming Congress's internal procedures, their defeat at the hands of President Bill Clinton in the 1995-96 budget battle confirmed the prevailing rule of present-day conflict between the executive and legislative branches of the American federal government; the president generally has the upper hand because Congress as a legislative body is ill adapted to the mass electronic environment in which modern American political conflict and debate take place.

The second theme of the book is the contrast between the influence of the freshman Republicans in the House and the more limited impact

-ix-

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Conservative Reformers: The Republican Freshmen and the Lessons of the 104th Congress
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables and Figures vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1- Sir Raymon Rodriguez - The Trouble with Congress 3
  • 3 - The Republican Revolution: Institutional Reform And Passing the Contract 62
  • 4 - A Lesson in Political Reality: The 1995-96 Budget Battle 96
  • 5 - The Neglected Revolutionaries: Republican Senate Freshmen In the 104th Congress 131
  • Conclusion 163
  • 6 - The Struggle for Reelection 168
  • Conclusion 197
  • 7 - Conclusion 198
  • Notes 217
  • Bibliography 241
  • Index 247
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