Did someone say the Republican fervor for revolution is fading in Congress? That's certainly not happening in the Senate, where members of the classes of 1994 and 1996 continue to storm the barricades.
On Jan. 29, Rod Grams of Minnesota reintroduced a bill to eliminate the Energy Department. The next day, Sam Brownback of Kansas and James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma cast the only two ballots against the confirmation of Chicago attorney William M. Daley as the new Commerce Secretary. Grams and Inhofe were elected to the Senate in 1994, and Brownback, who won a seat in the House that year, was elected to the Senate last fall.
Now an aide to Spencer Abraham of Michigan -- another 1994 Senate newcomer -- says that Abraham and Brownback will reintroduce a bill this month to "eliminate or reorganize" the Commerce Department. The two Senators will push the measure along a dual track in the Governmental Affairs Committee, where Brownback is a member, and in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where both Abraham and Brownback are members.
The two Senators want both committees to schedule hearings on the bill and to focus on the activities of Democratic National Committee fundraiser John Huang while he was employed at Commerce, says Joe McMonigle, Abraham's press secretary.
"The lack of mission in the Commerce Department, as evidenced by a guy like Huang 'freelancing' [for political contributions] the way he did, will have a lot to do with it," McMonigle added.