Spins On Congressional Record

August 5, 1996

The Spin on Congress

In their last public relations moves before the August recess, Republicans touted their legislative accomplishments and blasted Democrats and the Clinton Administration, while Democrats blasted the GOP and claimed credit for major legislative accomplishments.

In separate rallies last Friday, the two sides were in full campaign mode as they tried to shape the debate for the November election. Republican leaders pressed their argument that due to this week's accomplishments -- in the words of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. -- "this is the most significant Congress in a generation." Blaming Democrats for holding up legislation last year, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said, "We've seen Congress go from gridlock to Olympic gold." Lott added that "vacillation" and vetoes by President Clinton stopped Republicans from accomplishing more this year. Gingrich slammed the administration for not cooperating on the anti-terrorism bill, saying the White House cannot be trusted, and attacked Clinton for his position on immigration.

At a later news conference, Democratic leaders said the only reason key bills passed this week was that Republicans came around to supporting Democratic bills. "This Congress, which started out with the 'Contract with America,' the Republican revolution, has finally accomplished something. And what they've accomplished is Democratic initiatives," said House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo. Senate Minority Whip Wendell H. Ford, D-Ky., added that Republicans achieved nothing in the first session of the 104th Congress because Democrats stymied the GOP agenda, and that "not until Democrats forced them to the middle were there any accomplishments."

Both sides asserted they will do much more if voters give them a majority. "It's only half done. We've only just begun," Lott said. If Democrats return to the majority, they "will work every day for two years to address the 'kitchen table' issues of the American people," Gephardt countered.

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