Conservatives challenge GOP leaders over budget deal

Conservatives challenge GOP leaders over budget deal

The Conservative Caucus and other conservative groups today called for the ouster of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., for a "comprehensive betrayal of constitutional obligations and a rejection of conservative policies [in the omnibus bill] for which many Americans thought they were voting in supporting Republican control of Congress in 1994 and 1996."

Conservative Caucus Chairman Howard Phillips said today that conservative groups will begin a "grassroots campaign" after the election to pressure rank-and-file GOP House members and senators to oust Gingrich and Lott, and replace them with a more conservative leadership.

Speakers at the news conference criticized Gingrich and Lott for "caving" in to Democrats and President Clinton on International Monetary Fund spending, abortion, federal education policies, the "unconstitutional" military mission in Bosnia, United Nations dues, agricultural subsidies, adoptions by gays and lesbians in the District of Columbia, assisted suicide, and expanding immigration of highly skilled foreign workers.

"The consequence of this budget deal will be to increase the liberal turnout in November," Phillips said.

Meanwhile, in a letter to his GOP colleagues Monday, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., asked similarly tough questions about the congressional Republicans' principles and governing mission in wake of the compromises made to reach a budget agreement with Clinton last week.

Recalling how Republicans took control of Congress four years ago with an expectation by voters to address the "arrogance and corruption that often overtakes large institutions," Hagel observed, "Congress is no different." Making note of the GOP pledge to "cut government spending, taxes and regulations," Hagel asked, "Can we honestly say the product of last week's negotiations in any way reflects these priorities?"

Hagel went on to charge the GOP "risks squandering the opportunity America has given us" so long as it engages in "government by calculation" and relies on polls to judge public acceptance like the Clinton administration.

"If we do what we believe is the right thing, the politics takes care of itself," he wrote.

NEXT STORY: FDA nominee may get another shot