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

By Nicol C. Rae | Go to book overview

Senator Craig Thomas felt that the Republicans should have adopted a more graduated strategy instead of precipitating a single do-or-die battle with the government shutdown:

With hindsight, we maybe should have adopted a more gradual approach. Our mistake was to end the first shutdown without getting enough from the other side. Shutdowns are not a popular thing, and the public sees it as a teenage food fight with no real merit.89

At least most of the Senate freshmen (except Senators Inhofe and Thompson, who had won special elections to fill vacant Senate seats in 1994 and had to run again for a full six-year term in 1996), did not have to face the electorate in November 1996 with the shadow of the shutdown and "Mediscare" still hanging over them, whereas their House counterparts had to get reelected to maintain Republican control on Capitol Hill. Ironically, it would be the activities and legislative initiatives of the Senate that ensured most of the House freshmen returning in November 1996.


Conclusion

The Senate freshmen in their outlook on the budget battle had more in common with their House counterparts than their more cautious and skeptical senior Republican colleagues in the Senate. Many of them had come from the House and had had their baptism in national politics in the ferociously partisan atmosphere that characterized that chamber in the early 1990s. As House members, they had been disciples of Newt Gingrich and had become used to relentless and combative partisanship, and so it is hardly surprising that they had more enthusiasm for the Contract with America and the "Republican revolution" than most of their more senior Republican colleagues in the Senate. Senator Jon Kyl had no hesitation in admitting that he identified with the House freshmen and their crusading zeal:

I do identify with the House freshmen, and I have regretted that too many of those in power here do not identify with their political agenda. The Senate Republican Conference is behind the House Republican Conference in its evolution, but the revolution here is almost complete, and after the next election, with another new class, it will be complete.

-163-

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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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