November 8, 1994 election day, produced nothing less than a revolution at the ballot box. For the first time in 40 years, the Republican Party was vested with control of both Houses of Congress.
What produced this historic swing in American politics?
Two currents came together, one based on the future, the Republican Contract with America and the other a revulsion of the actions and policy proposals of President Bill Clinton.
The House of Representatives contains 435 positions. It takes 218, a bare majority, to exercise control. 73 House Republican new members were swept into Washington by the people of America. The result was a stunning reversal of 40 years of Democratic
domination with the new division being 235 Republicans and 200 Democrats.
The enormity of the ballot box revolution is realized when you consider that in the Reagan win of the Presidency in 1980, the Democrats controlled the House 243 to 192 Republicans. This total of 192 Republicans was the high water mark over the ensuing
12 years which I served in the House.
How did the Contract with America help produce the turnover? For the first time in recent memory, it nationalized candidate races for the House of Representatives. The people of America were promised certain actions in the House of Representatives, and
the reality is the Republicans in the House delivered.
Many of the provision of the Contract with America, which passed the House did not pass the Senate. People may ask, what’s the problem considering that the Republicans now control the U.S. Senate 53 to 47?
The U.S. Senate rules have a provision for a filibuster namely, unlimited debate. To stop a filibuster takes 60 votes for a process called closure. If the Republicans have 53, the existence of the filibuster, threatened if not used, acted as a chilling
impact on those provisions of the Contract with America which were not adopted.
In one instance, the Balanced Budget Amendment achieved the required 2/3 votes in the House. Actually 300 votes were recorded for it (over the 289 votes needed), but failed 66 to 34 in the Senate with the only Republican Senator Mark Hatfield, voting
no. (67 votes were required.) Had he voted yes, the measure would have passed and now be considered by the State Legislatures around the country. (3/4 of the states would be required -38 needed.) By the way, Senator Hatfield is retiring at the end of
Perhaps the biggest question for the American people to answer on election day 1996, is whether we will have the patience to understand that it took roughly 60 years to build the welfare state to it’s current size and should we realistically hope to
significantly turn it around in just two years?
If the American people want more tax increases, more regulations and a continued expansion of the welfare State, return the control the Congress to the Democrats. They will deliver.
If on the other hand, we Americans want to slow down the growth of government, enact tax reductions, and produce less regulations, then continue Republican control of the Congress. Republicans will deliver on this agenda.
A handful of senior Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee should either join the revolutionary movement brought to the House by the 73 new Republican members in January 1995, or step aside.
They include Hal Rogers in the 5th Congressional District of Kentucky, Ralph Regula in the 16th Congressional District of Ohio and John Porter in the 10th Congressional District of Illinois. They are fine men, experienced Republican House members,
who were elevated to the chairmanship of subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee with the Republican takeover.
I hope these men will join the effort to make the federal government smaller and let the private sector grow at a faster rate than in recent years.
What is at stake is control of Congress, but in a larger sense freedom for all Americans is the true issue to be resolved on election day, November 5, 1996.