[House Document 108-204]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

                     The Cannon Centenary Conference

The Changing Nature of the Speakership

                      Cannon House Office Building

                      Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division      

                  Speaker Joseph G. Cannon, circa 1909

       108th congress, 2d session      house document no. 108-204
                     The Cannon Centenary Conference

The Changing Nature of the Speakership

                      Cannon House Office Building
                      Wednesday, November 12, 2003

                   Compiled Under the Direction of the
                      Joint Committee on Printing,
                         Chairman Robert W. Ney

                            WASHINGTON : 2004

          This conference was sponsored by the Congressional 
          Research Service, Library of Congress, and the 
          Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies 
          Center, University of Oklahoma; and funded in part 
          by a grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation.
          Walter J. Oleszek, the editor of this document, 
          gratefully acknowledges the production assistance 
          of Daphne Bigger and Karen Wirt of the 
          Congressional Research Service and Suzanne Kayne 
          of the Government Printing Office.
          The Congressional Research Service has produced 
          six videotapes of the Cannon Centenary proceedings 
          for use by Members of Congress. The videotapes 
          cover, respectively, the O'Neill, Wright, Foley, 
          and Gingrich speakerships, as well as the 
          presentation of Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and 
          Professor Robert V. Remini.

                     House Concurrent Resolution 345

          Resolved by the House of Representatives (the 
          Senate concurring),
          (a) IN GENERAL.--The transcripts of the 
          proceedings of ``The Changing Nature of the House 
          Speakership: The Cannon Centenary Conference'', 
          sponsored by the Congressional Research Service on 
          November 12, 2003, shall be printed as a House 
          document, in a style and manner determined by the 
          Joint Committee on Printing.
          shall be printed for the use of the House of 
          Representatives and the Senate such aggregate 
          number of copies of the document printed under 
          subsection (a) as the Joint Committee on Printing 
          determines to be appropriate, except that the 
          maximum number of copies which may be printed 
          shall be the number for which the aggregate 
          printing cost does not exceed $65,000.



The Cannon Centenary Conference

                                 Part I
                 The Changing Nature of the Speakership
        Daniel P. Mulhollan, Director, Congressional Research 
        Service, Library of Congress..........................
                                                                    3, 6
        Gary Copeland, Director, Carl Albert Center...........
      THE O'NEILL SPEAKERSHIP.................................
        Gary Hymel 
                                               9, 22, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31
        John A. Farrell.......................................
                                                                  11, 30
        The Honorable Dan Rostenkowski 
                                                          22, 29, 30, 31
        The Honorable Mickey Edwards..........................
                                                                  24, 30
      THE WRIGHT SPEAKERSHIP..................................
        Janet Hook 
                                                          33, 48, 54, 56
        Speaker James C. Wright, Jr...........................
        The Honorable David E. Bonior.........................
        The Honorable Tom Loeffler............................
      HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES................................
        Introduction, The Honorable Robert H. Michel..........
        Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.............................
      THE FOLEY SPEAKERSHIP...................................
        Jeff Biggs 
                                                      65, 80, 82, 84, 86
        Speaker Thomas S. Foley 
                                                          69, 80, 83, 84
        The Honorable Bill Frenzel............................
        The Honorable Vic Fazio...............................
      THE HISTORICAL SPEAKERSHIP..............................
        Introduction, James C. Billington, Librarian of 
        Congress ...
                                                              87, 95, 97
        Professor Robert V. Remini, Kluge Scholar.............
                                                                  89, 96
      THE GINGRICH SPEAKERSHIP................................
        Donald Wolfensberger .................................
                                             99, 107, 110, 115, 117, 118
        Speaker Newt Gingrich 
                                                           100, 115, 118
        The Honorable Leon E. Panetta 
                                                                107, 117
        The Honorable Robert S. Walker........................
                                 Part II
                     Perspectives on the Speakership
      Chapter 1: The Speakership in Historical Perspective, by 
      Ronald M. Peters, Jr....................................
      Chapter 2: Speakers Reed, Cannon, and Gingrich: 
      Catalysts of Institutional and Procedural Change, by 
      Walter J. Oleszek and Richard C. Sachs..................
      Chapter 3: The Speaker of the House and the Committee on 
      Rules, by Christopher M. Davis..........................
      Chapter 4: The Speaker and the Senate, by Elizabeth 
      Chapter 5: The Speaker and the Press, by Betsy Palmer...
      Chapter 6: The Speaker and the President: Conflict and 
      Cooperation, by R. Eric Petersen........................
      Chapter 7: Speakers, Presidents, and National 
      Emergencies, by Harold C. Relyea........................
      Chapter 8: The Changing Speakership, by Ronald M. 
      Peters, Jr..............................................

                                Part III
      List of Conference Participants.........................

                                 Part I

                           The Changing Nature

                           of the Speakership
The Cannon Centenary Conference


    Mr. MULHOLLAN. I'm Dan Mulhollan, Director of the Congressional 
Research Service, and it is my distinct pleasure to welcome all of you 
to this first-ever conference on the changing nature of the speakership. 
I say first-ever because never before has there been a conference at 
which all living former Speakers--Jim Wright, Tom Foley and Newt 
Gingrich--have participated with the current Speaker, Dennis Hastert, to 
discuss their role as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
    In addition, I am pleased to welcome the other important presenters 
at this conference: the former House Members who will serve as 
commentators on the various speakerships, the four moderators for each 
speakership period, and, of course, Jack Farrell of the Denver Post, who 
will start things off with an examination of the O'Neill speakership. 
Professor Robert Remini, one of our Nation's most distinguished 
historians, will present his views on the evolving speakership. I 
believe all of us are in for a unique and historic opportunity. We will 
listen to several of the most knowledgeable people in our Nation discuss 
the variety of elements necessary to lead such a large and complex 
institution as the House of Representatives.
    This conference has been organized to commemorate the election on 
November 9--3 days ago, but also 100 years ago, in 1903--of 
Representative Joseph Cannon, Republican of Illinois, as Speaker of the 
House. How fitting it is that we convene this conference in the Cannon 
Caucus Room, after whom this entire building is named. Joe Cannon, the 
first person ever to grace the cover of Time magazine, was one of the 
most powerful and controversial Speakers in the entire history of the 
House. When Cannon neared retirement from the House in 1922 after nearly 
50 years of service, he modestly said, ``A hundred years from now people 
will say it does appear that there was a man from Illinois by the name 
of Cannon, but I don't know much about him.'' But we are here more than 
100 years later and if ``Uncle Joe,'' as he was fondly called by some, 
was still around he would find many books, articles, and Ph.D. 
dissertations written about his long career and impact on the House.
    This conference on the contemporary speakership is another reminder 
that people still remember Speaker Cannon's significant influence on the 
House and the course of the country at the dawn of the 20th century. To 
expand upon this welcome I'd like to introduce Gary Copeland, director 
of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at the 
University of Oklahoma with whom CRS is fortunate to be able to co-
sponsor this event.
    Mr. COPELAND. Thank you, Dan. I'm pleased to be with you today 
representing the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center 
at the University of Oklahoma, which is a co-sponsor of this important 
conference on the changing nature of the House speakership. It is 
appropriate that we use the centennial of the Cannon speakership as the 
occasion to hold this conference because his service reflects the 
dynamic relationship between the Speaker and his colleagues in the 
    The Speaker, as we know, must possess and utilize enough authority 
to effectively lead a body of 435 individuals who are formal equals, yet 
he must exercise that authority with enough discretion that Members 
accept it as in the best interest of the Nation, the body, and 
    As we look over the last 100 years, we see a constant shift on where 
that balance is comfortably found. The balance will be affected by the 
personality of the Speaker, the formal powers given to him at the time, 
the character of the membership of the body, and the social and 
political culture of the time. There is no magic point that guarantees 
both effectiveness and widespread support. The Speakers we will consider 
today each approached the office in his own way and each reflected the 
times in which he served as well as dramatically affecting those times. 
Understanding the changing nature of the speakership puts the records of 
previous Speakers in appropriate historical perspective but also 
provides guidance as we move forward into the future.
    The Carl Albert Center is very pleased to serve as a co-sponsor of 
this conference with the widely respected Congressional Research Service 
[CRS]. CRS is, of course, uniquely qualified to put together a 
conference of this sort and to contribute their expertise on the 
changing nature of the speakership. On this topic, the partnership 
between the CRS and the Carl Albert Center seems particularly 
appropriate and Dan Mulhollan has allowed me to elaborate a little bit 
on that.
    The Carl Albert Center, named for the 46th Speaker of the House, has 
played a role in the academic understanding of the House generally and 
the speakership specifically for almost 25 years. The Carl Albert Center 
was founded and directed for over 20 years by the leading scholar of the 
speakership, Ron Peters. Ron's major work, The American Speakership, is 
the foremost book on the topic, providing a thorough analysis and 
interpretation of the speakership in historical perspective. Professor 
Peters has published numerous other works on the topic, and he is with 
us today contributing a paper to this conference.
    Beyond the speakership, the Carl Albert Center faculty and graduate 
students have researched a variety of other topics including campaign 
finance, committees, the seniority system, and so forth. But the center 
has multiple missions, which I will briefly mention to you, in addition 
to the research function. We offer unique academic programs at both the 
graduate and undergraduate level, including a congressional fellowship 
for graduate students that includes a year working on the Hill in 
affiliation with the Congressional Fellowship Program of the American 
Political Science Association. And we have an undergraduate program that 
matches our students one-to-one with faculty members to develop a 
mentoring relationship. Many of those students have become partners in 
the research projects with which they were originally assisting and have 
gone on to present their research findings at professional meetings.
    Third, and perhaps of interest to many of you in this room, is that 
the Carl Albert Center serves as an important resource on the history of 
Congress, primarily through our congressional archives, a collection of 
20th century papers. We hold the papers of notable Oklahoma lawmakers 
such as Speaker Albert, Representatives Mike Synar and Mickey Edwards, 
and Senator Robert S. Kerr, as well as some out-of-state Members, such 
as Representatives Millicent Fenwick and Helen Gahagan Douglas. Our most 
recent additions include the important papers of two retired Republican 
leaders: Congressman J.C. Watts and Majority Leader Dick Armey.
    Finally, the center fosters a variety of programs to provide 
outreach to the community at large. We are pleased to sponsor the Julian 
J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lecture in Representative Government, and we 
also frequently host speakers from Washington, including current and 
former Members of Congress. The center is actively engaged in programs 
aimed at students and young people, including being a partner in the 
Project 540 Grant which some of you should be familiar with. We've 
worked with the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers 
University to develop a leadership program aimed at encouraging women to 
become involved in politics. We've worked with the Close-up Foundation 
on their Great American Cities Project to encourage teenagers in 
effective citizenship skills and participation in political life. 
Everything we do is aimed at reflecting the quality of life and 
leadership practiced by our namesake, Carl Albert.
    As we'll understand better as a result of this conference, Speakers 
are unique and special individuals who have perhaps the toughest task in 
our political system. Just as Speaker Albert led the House in a critical 
period of change, each of his successors that we will discuss today had 
unique circumstances and unique gifts. The Carl Albert Center is pleased 
to present this conference with the CRS with the hope of promoting 
better understanding of each of the Speakers and the special challenges 
and opportunities of their position. I thank all of you for being here 
today and, like the rest of you, I look forward to the proceedings.
    Mr. MULHOLLAN. Thank you, Gary. Many people on Capitol Hill assisted 
CRS in initiating and organizing this conference, including the joint 
leadership of the House Administration Committee: Chairman Bob Ney and 
Ranking Member John Larson, who just came in. John, thank you very much. 
Thanks go as well to the leadership of the House Rules Committee. But I 
especially want to thank Speaker Hastert and Democratic Leader Nancy 
Pelosi for endorsing the organization of this conference. And last, but 
certainly not least, I must acknowledge the critical support not only of 
the Carl Albert Center but also the McCormick Tribune Foundation without 
whose support this conference would not have taken place. John Sirek is 
representing McCormick Tribune. Thank you, John, very much.
    Now to some logistics. It's our plan that CRS will use the videotape 
of this conference for the benefit of Members of Congress and their 
staff. In addition, we expect that the transcript of today's 
proceedings, along with several reports on various aspects of the 
speakership, will be published and made available to Members of 
Congress. One of these reports is by Professor Ron Peters, who was just 
mentioned by Gary Copeland. Professor Peters is the noted scholar on the 
speakership. His paper is available as a handout to everyone who is 
attending this conference. At this point, in an effort to minimize 
distraction in today's program, please turn off your cell phones. Should 
today's program be preempted by an emergency or test alarm, all 
occupants should exit the building and proceed to designated assembly 
areas. If you don't know where your assembly area is, just ask a helpful 
police officer in an orange vest.
    Please direct any questions or concerns regarding today's program to 
any CRS staff member wearing a tag. Further, most of today's panelists 
will be available for questions following their presentations. A 
wireless microphone will be circulating the room so if you have 
questions, please raise your hand and we'll try to accommodate you. At 
this point, before we begin, I must turn to the person who is the 
originator, the conceiver, and implementer of this whole conference, 
Walter Oleszek, a senior specialist in American National Government at 
    Mr. OLESZEK. Thanks very much, Dan, for those kind remarks, but 
there are a lot of people who helped put this conference together. Dan, 
I'm sure, will highlight them at a later point. My job is to introduce 
the moderators so we can get under way with the program at hand. Not 
only do we have a whole group of wonderfully knowledgeable people about 
the House of Representatives who we're all anxious to hear from, but we 
also have a terrifically talented crew of moderators. I want to 
introduce the moderator for this panel right now. He is Gary Hymel, whom 
many of you may know from his time on the Hill. He served for 8 years as 
administrative assistant to Majority Whip and Majority Leader Hale 
Boggs. He also served for 8 years as administrative assistant to Speaker 
Tip O'Neill. Mr. Hymel co-authored a book with Tip O'Neill called All 
Politics is Local, a classic statement for which Speaker O'Neill is 
famous. Currently, Mr. Hymel is senior vice president at Hill & 
Knowlton. Gary, take it away.

U.S. House of Representatives photographer      

             Hon. Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker 1977-1987
                         The O'Neill Speakership

The Cannon Centenary Conference

The O'Neill Speakership

    Mr. HYMEL. Thank you, Walter, and thank you for putting together 
this excellent panel of people who knew Tip. It's been 10 years since 
Tip was with us but a week doesn't go by that his name isn't in the 
paper, usually associated with that saying, ``All politics is local,'' 
something his father taught him. It was used last Tuesday, in the 
Kentucky election, for instance. The Democratic candidate was upset and 
a consultant said afterward that Tip O'Neill was right--all politics is 
local. Many Kentucky voters were angry with the previous Governor's 
sexual escapades. I'm not so sure Tip meant that his saying should apply 
in that context, but if it fits I guess it's all right.
    Just last month I was talking to Lindy Boggs and she was telling me 
about when she was at Tip's funeral. It was very crowded because it was 
at Tip's parish church in Cambridge. And the fellow next to her said, 
``They should have had this funeral at a cathedral where they could 
accommodate everybody. This is too crowded.'' And Lindy said, ``I looked 
at him and said, `All politics is local.' '' Two weeks ago in The Hill 
newspaper, there was a cartoon strip about a Congressman who wants to 
get all the benefits for his district but didn't want to vote for an 
increase in taxes. The last cartoon panel said, ``Well, you taught me 
`all politics is loco.' '' Another case when Tip was invoked occurred 
when Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California. The 
reporters interviewed John Burton who is the president pro tem of the 
California Senate, and they asked, ``How are you going to get along with 
Governor Schwarzenegger?'' And Burton said, ``I'm going to treat him 
like Tip O'Neill treated Ronald Reagan.'' He said, ``They had a 
wonderful personal relationship and they fought over policy, as we 
    Tip ruled by anecdote and he ruled by humor, and I'm sure you all 
know that. Senator John McCain, last week in a Washington Post story 
about the disappearance of the real characters in Congress, said, ``To 
be honest my favorite was Tip O'Neill.'' He said, ``One time I spent 
five hours with him on a plane, and it was probably the most 
entertaining five hours of my life.'' The other day I was taking a 
client through the Rayburn Building. He said, ``I need a shoe shine.'' 
So we went in the barbershop and Joe Quattrone, the longtime barber 
there said, ``Gary, I got to tell you my favorite Tip O'Neill story.'' 
And my client's listening, of course. He said, ``You know Richard 
Kelly,''--some of you may remember the Congressman from Florida who got 
in trouble for taking a bribe and was about to be sentenced. Quattrone 
said to Kelly, ``I'm sorry for what happened,'' and Kelly said, ``Joe, 
don't worry about it. I'm at peace with myself. I'm really feeling good 
about myself. I was just on the House floor and Tip O'Neill put his arm 
around me and said, `I'm sorry for what happened, and my door will 
always be open to you.' '' That was Tip O'Neill.
    I want to tell one last story, one former Congressman Joe McDade 
told me about 2 weeks ago when I saw him at a book signing. Joe said, 
``Gary, you don't know this story but one time we were traveling with 
Tip through Europe and we stopped at the airport in Shannon, 
Ireland,''--and if you ever took a trip with Tip, you always stopped at 
the Shannon Airport because they have a great duty-free shop. ``So 
everybody was getting off the plane and Tip said, `You know I'm not 
feeling well. You go on and shop, I'm going to stay on the plane.' '' 
Joe said, ``Tip, I'll stay with you and keep you company.'' So they're 
sitting there shooting the bull--I'm sure talking sports and politics, 
and the pilot, an Air Force colonel, came back and said, ``Mr. Speaker, 
can I get you anything?'' Tip said, ``No, no. Everything's fine. On 
second thought, could you take the plane up so we can see Ireland from 
the air?'' And the colonel said, ``Sure.'' So Joe said they revved up 
the engines and took this United States of America airliner up and 
circled for awhile. Tip saw Ireland from the air, and then they landed 
and got everybody on and went home. To me that typified Tip O'Neill.
    Now let me tell you about some of the people who will speak about 
him today. First is Jack Farrell. Now Jack didn't know Tip as well as 
Danny Rostenkowski or Mickey Edwards or myself, but he got to know him. 
Jack spent 6 years researching Tip's life. He did 300 interviews and 
wrote a book called, Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century. It sold 
38,000 copies. You can still buy it today. Jack did an excellent job. 
Everybody co-operated with Jack because former Congressman Joe Moakley, 
Tip's very dear friend, said you could trust Jack Farrell. Jack is now 
the bureau chief of the Denver Post, and he will talk to you about what 
he learned about Tip.
    Next on the podium is former Congressman Danny Rostenkowski, who was 
very, very close to Tip. They are very similar. They're both big 
persons, their fathers were in politics, they are Catholic, ethnic, big-
city organization Democrats. Danny had a lot of ideas about how the 
House could be run better and he was very generous about giving his 
opinions to Tip O'Neill. And some of his ideas are still in place today. 
For instance, Danny is the guy who came up with the idea to have weekly 
whip meetings. They had never had them before. The practice of rolling 
votes from Monday into Tuesday, which helped the ``Tuesday-to-Thursday 
Club,'' also was Danny's idea. Dan could have been on the leadership 
ladder. He could have been the whip for Tip, but he chose to be chairman 
of the Ways and Means Committee instead.
    Mickey Edwards, our final panel member, is a former GOP Congressman 
from Oklahoma. He was sworn in by Tip when he was a freshman. He became 
a member of the loyal opposition. Edwards was head of the Republican 
Policy Committee, and chair of the American Conservative Union. In fact, 
he now teaches a class in American conservatism at the Kennedy School at 
Harvard, which he's meeting this afternoon at 2:30. We'll let each panel 
member speak and then take questions from the audience. With that, I'll 
turn it over to Jack Farrell.
    Mr. FARRELL. Good morning. So a few months ago I got a call from 
Walter, who has now slunk away somewhere, and he asked me if I would 
give a talk about Tip O'Neill. And I thought I was going to be in a 
small conference room with maybe a few members of the Congressional 
Research Service staff. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I 
actually got an invitation and noted that this was going to be a 
historic event featuring all three living former Speakers and the 
current Speaker. And it came to me that Speakers Foley and Wright and 
Gingrich were all going to be here, appearing in person, giving first-
hand accounts with behind-the-scenes nuggets that historians would prize 
forever. And if that was not daunting enough I had been selected to 
stand in for one of the greatest storytellers of all time, Speaker Tip 
O'Neill. So I was struck by one of those moments of stark panic. 
Desperately, I came up with the idea that I was going to deliver this 
speech in the first person, like Hal Holbrook doing Mark Twain. I would 
dress up like Tip, comb my hair back, sprinkle some flour in it so I'd 
have that grand O'Neill white shock of hair. Maybe strap a pillow around 
my waist and speak through the stub of a cigar. I ran this by Gary and 
Walter and got what I guess could be described as politely nervous 
chuckles. But as always the sharpest perspective came from my wife 
Catharina. She said, ``Jack, I love you. But you're a lousy actor and 
you're a worst mimic. In all the weeks of your book tour, all the 
stories you told, you never once gave a good impression of Tip O'Neill. 
Your `dahlings' and your `old pals' were never persuasive. Your Boston 
accent is unconvincing and when you sing it's off key. You barely need 
the pillow and you can douse your head with as much flour as you want. 
It's never going to make you look like Tip O'Neill, but a little bit 
more like snow on Old Baldy. You just don't have enough trees at the 
peak.'' So Tip remains to be played maybe in a one-man show by John 
Goodman or Ned Beattie or Charles Durning. And having watched John 
Goodman play a Speaker on ``West Wing'' this fall, I think he might be 
the best bet even though he did play a Republican.
    So now I get to talk about Tip, not to try and channel him. And the 
sound that you are hearing is that of 1,000 C-SPAN viewers sighing in 
relief. Though I spent 6 years on my biography of Speaker O'Neill, I'm 
very modest about my ability to describe his motivation on many matters. 
As he once said, ``You cannot look into a man's heart. Human beings keep 
great secrets.'' But I do believe--I do know that Tip would have 
approved what we're doing here today. He revered the House and the 
Speaker's Office and, this may come as a surprise to some in the room, 
he was a life-long student of history. Many of you may travel to Boston 
for the Democratic Convention next summer or to New England to see the 
leaves of autumn, and if you pause at Minuteman Park and follow where 
the Redcoats were chased by the Rebels down the road from Concord to 
Lexington, or you go to Charlestown to walk the decks of Old Ironsides 
or you visit the Old North Church or the Paul Revere House or many of 
the other carefully preserved historic sites on the Freedom Walk in 
Boston, you should tip your hat to Tip, who was responsible, or at least 
shared in the responsibility, of winning Federal protection and funding 
for these sites when he served with great enthusiasm on the National 
Historic Sites Commission. Tip's ability to bring home the bacon for 
matters of historic preservation is part of a pattern. For one of the 
things I discovered when doing the research for my book was that in the 
days before he entered the House leadership he was a colossal collector 
of ``pork'' for Massachusetts. From a junior seat on the Rules 
Committee, according to one reputable academic study, Tip's share of 
Federal postal, health, welfare, anti-poverty and education funds was 
demonstratively greater than those claimed by the chairman of the 
authorizing committee or the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee 
that had jurisdiction over those matters. And I see heads nodding among 
the cognoscenti in appreciation of that particular trick. Congressman 
Jim McGovern wherever you are, eat your heart out.
    If you go to Massachusetts to visit those historic sites, you'll no 
doubt travel on roads that Tip played a major role in building. Not just 
the multibillion dollar Central Artery Project which is rightly known as 
Tip's Tunnel in Boston, but also the aging elevated Fitzgerald 
Expressway that they're tearing down to make way for the new artery. Tip 
helped build it when serving as the first Democratic speaker of the 
Massachusetts House after World War II. In those days, before the 
creation of the interstate highway system, the States paid for their own 
roads and the Massachusetts government cut corners in the form of exit 
and entrance ramps to save money when building the expressway. Soon it 
would take 45 minutes to get from one side of Boston to the other. So 
when he came to Congress, Tip set about solving this. In a way, he 
inherited his own problem and the way he solved it 40 years later was by 
tapping the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $12 billion, and Massachusetts 
thanks you.
    As he raked in the Federal largesse for his State and district, 
O'Neill also took the time to make sure that the Minuteman Park and the 
Old North Church were protected. It's a small but perhaps telling 
indication that in Tip O'Neill you have a somewhat more complicated 
character than the popular image suggested. He was a wardheeler to be 
sure, but one of the first to be blessed with a college diploma from 
Boston College. No one was better at swapping favors, but when he first 
ran for office, and in his years in the Massachusetts State House, he 
had the tiniest bit of a hint of a sheen of a middle-class reformer 
about him. He was certainly no James ``Take a Buck'' Coffey, that 
memorable State rep from Beacon Hill who so eloquently summed up the 
code of a certain class of Massachusetts politicians. Coffey publicly 
announced, ``I'll take a buck. And who the hell doesn't know it? I'm 
probably the only one who has guts enough to say I'll take a buck. I'd 
like to see the guy who doesn't.''
    Tip knew the ways, and could throw a mean elbow, but he appreciated 
youth and idealism and was able to change with the times. He had street 
smarts and Jesuit schooling. Representative Barney Frank, a Harvard 
graduate, once told me that he thought Tip was smart enough to teach 
history on the faculty at Boston College. It was only after leaving the 
interview and upon some reflection that I began to worry that Barney was 
playing with me and that his comment said more about how Harvard views 
Boston College than it does of Tip's particular gifts and abilities. But 
I brought it up with him later and Barney assured me that he meant it as 
a compliment to Tip, not a knock at BC.
    Tip's ability to bridge the gap between the new and the old would 
prove to be an invaluable asset as he rose to the speakership. He and 
his predecessor, Carl Albert, are rightly known amongst students of 
Congress as the key transitional figures in the development of the 
modern Speaker. And, in fact, I have my own thanks to give to the Carl 
Albert Center and to Mr. Peters for much of the analysis that I'm about 
to present, and for also preserving and sharing a remarkable oral 
history by Carl Albert in which Carl laid it down as he saw it, with 
absolutely no reservations, when commenting about the character of his 
peers in all those years in Congress.
    Albert and O'Neill presided over the transition from old to new, 
there's no doubt. Consider what preceded them for most of the 20th 
century--a rigid seniority system with tyrannical old southern chairmen, 
and a closed-door leadership characterized by Speaker Sam Rayburn's 
``board of education.'' The board was located in a high-ceilinged room 
one floor below the House Chamber and Tip visited when he was invited by 
his patron Speaker John McCormack, who was then majority leader. Tip sat 
around with Mr. Sam's closest buddies drinking hard liquor, and using 
the small sink that, as D.B. Hardeman and Donald Bacon so memorably put 
it, ``served as a public urinal for some of America's most famous 
political figures.'' It was from that room that Harry Truman was 
summoned to the White House to be sworn in as President when Franklin 
Roosevelt died. And Mr. Sam routinely invited a few up-and-comers like 
Albert, Hale Boggs, and Tip O'Neill to listen as he and Lyndon Johnson 
and John McCormack or House Parliamentarian Lewis Deschler discussed the 
day's events and struck a blow for liberty.
    That was the House as Tip knew it when he arrived in Congress in 
1953. Even the arrival of Jack Kennedy did not change things. The 
southern chairmen remained in control, and Tip found it particularly 
frustrating because--though JFK was from Massachusetts--political rivals 
on the President's staff kept O'Neill away from the new President. When 
he turned 50, he took his daughter Rosemary to dinner.
    ``That's it. My career is over,'' Tip told Rosemary. ``We had a 
President from my own State, from my own district and I can't get in to 
see him.'' Well, as someone who's just a few months from turning 50, I 
hope that the next 35 years do for my career what the next 35 did for 
Tip. The war in Vietnam turned out to be his great opportunity. He was 
an early foe, representing a district that turned against the war before 
much of the rest of America. His stance against the war gave him 
credibility, and a following, among the flock of young representatives 
who were then beginning to arrive in Washington. Like them, he was 
frustrated by the way that the tough old southern chairmen refused to 
allow recorded votes on the war. Out of sympathy, and expediency, he 
joined many of their attempts to reform Congress.
    Though a northerner, Tip was a veteran Democrat who could appeal to 
the South; he could also appeal to both the ``old guard'' and the ``new 
turks.'' So he was selected by Albert and Majority Leader Boggs to 
become the Democratic whip. Then, of course, came the stroke of fortune 
that put Tip just a step away from the Speaker's Office. Boggs' airplane 
took off in unsettled weather in Alaska and he was never seen again. So 
it was Tip who faced off against Richard Nixon. He found himself the 
leader of the House Democrats in the turbulent years of Watergate. And 
it was clear throughout the early seventies that his strength in the 
House came from his ability to span this gap between North and South, 
young and old, new suburban representatives, and the lingering captains 
of the old city machines. It was a very delicate balancing act but it 
got him where he wanted to be--the Speaker of the House in 1976, just in 
time for the return of a Democratic Presidency.
    But as he took the oath of office, O'Neill looked out on a House 
that was far different from the one he had joined in 1953. ``The group 
that came in 1974, the ``Watergate babies,'' were a bunch of 
mavericks,'' said Jim Wright. ``All of them had run on reform platforms 
intent on changing anything and everything they found that had needed 
changing.'' Indeed, while the turbulence of the sixties, the Vietnam 
war, and the years of Watergate had led millions of young Americans to 
abandon the political process and turn inward, those who persisted in 
politics--in Democratic politics--were highly committed activists who 
had cut their teeth on civil rights, the anti-war movement or the 
Kennedy, McCarthy and McGovern campaigns. They viewed Washington as a 
capital in need of purging.
    Tip recalled that ``these youthful, able, talented people, they 
didn't like the establishment. They didn't like Washington. They didn't 
like the seniority system. They didn't like the closeness of it and they 
came down here with new ideas. They wanted to change the Congress of the 
United States, which they did.'' The old politics had fallen into 
disrepair. The Democratic Members of the classes of 1970, 1972, 1974, 
and 1976 were prototypes of a new kind of Senator and Representative. 
They were comfortable with their ideological allies in the press corps 
that was undergoing similar changes. They were conversant in the 
politics of televised imagery and campaign commercials and generally 
beholden to few party leaders. They were independent political 
entrepreneurs who raised their own funds, hired professional advisors, 
and reached out to the voters using direct mail appeals, single-issue 
interest groups, radio, and television advertising. Said Tip, ``About 50 
percent of these people had never served in public life before. When I 
came to Congress the average man had been in the legislature, had been a 
mayor or district attorney or served in the local city council. They 
grew up knowing what party discipline was about. These new people came 
as individuals. They got elected criticizing Washington. They said, 
`Hey, we never got any help from the Democratic Party. We won on our own 
and we're going to be independent.' They started in 1974 and they broke 
the discipline.''
    The House was thoroughly remade from the sleepy institution of Tip's 
early years in Congress. The southern autocracy was broken; the 
shuffling old bulls swept from the Capitol's halls. Of 292 Democrats 
when Tip took over as Speaker in January 1977, only 15 had served in 
Congress longer than he had. The average age in the House had dropped to 
49.3, the youngest since World War II. The regional distribution of the 
two parties had begun to reflect the transformative success of the 
Republican southern strategy. And the old urban strongholds of ethnic 
white Democrats had been washed away by the great post-war migration of 
black Americans from the South and the subsequent white flight to the 
suburbs. The new breed of Democratic office holders, Tim Wirth, Gary 
Hart, Paul Tsongas, Michael Dukakis, and the rest, were neoliberals who 
sold the notion of political reform and their own personalities to 
suburbanites who gathered political information from television, not the 
local block captain. Ticket splitting was far more common. The 
percentage of voters who chose the party line dropped in House elections 
from 84 percent to 69 percent in the 20 years after 1958. Without an 
old-time party machine to distribute winter coats and turkeys, those new 
political entrepreneurs invested considerable resources into 
sophisticated constituent service operations, answering mail and 
telephone calls, staffing satellite mobile field offices, chasing down 
wayward Social Security checks.
    Between 1971 and 1981 the volume of incoming mail to Congress more 
than tripled. Watts lines, word processors, and computerized mailing 
systems became commonplace features in congressional offices. Members of 
this new Congress depended on televised imagery and telegenic forums. 
The number of committee and subcommittee chairmen had doubled to some 
200 during the time O'Neill had been in Congress. The duties of 
constituent service and the work of these subcommittees fueled the 
demand for more staff. The 435 Members of the House had 2,000 employees 
on their payroll when O'Neill arrived in 1953. There were 7,000 such 
employees in 1977 and another 3,000 working for committees, 
subcommittees, and the party leadership. The Rules Committee served as a 
prime illustration. Chairman Howard Smith (D-VA), had two committee 
aides in 1960 when Tip served on Rules. Twenty years later there were 
42. Congress was now a billion-dollar business with a commensurate 
demand for more lobbyists, special interest groups, trade associations, 
and journalists.
    The average number of days in session jumped from 230 in the 
Eisenhower years to 323 in the 95th Congress. And the number of recorded 
votes went from 71 in O'Neill's first year to 834 in 1978. Gone were the 
days when Carl Albert, following Sam Rayburn's advice, would spend his 
days in the House Chamber soaking up knowledge and forging collegial 
relationships. Gone as well were the hours when Harold Donohue (D-MA), 
and Phil Philbin (D-MA), would slump in the soft leather chairs of the 
House Chamber each afternoon like aged hotel detectives, whiling away 
the hours with gossip and the occasional rousing snore. A 1977 study by 
a House Commission found that Members worked 11-hour days of which only 
33 minutes were spent at contemplative tasks like reading, thinking, or 
writing. The House became a place to cast a vote and flee, not as much 
to mingle, converse, or enjoy the debate.
    For many it was hard not to hearken back to George Washington 
Plunkett, the legendary sage of Tammany Hall who asked in 1905, ``Have 
you ever thought what would become of the country if the bosses were put 
out of business and their places were taken by a lot of cart-tail 
orators and college graduates? It would mean chaos.''
    And so, in the early years of Jimmy Carter's Presidency, O'Neill 
pioneered a process by which he would govern the House for the next 
decade. It came to be known as the ``politics of inclusion.'' The idea 
was to rope your colleagues in to secure their allegiance by giving them 
a stake in the results, to share the responsibility as well as the 
spoils, and to co-opt resistance. Did the new breed of congressmen and 
congresswomen--the political entrepreneurs--demand a piece of the action 
and a ticket to the 5 o'clock news? Then O'Neill would give it to them 
in return for their loyalty. Starting with an Ad-hoc Energy Committee 
and three energy task forces, soon every major issue had a task force 
and bright, young Members to chair it: willing to trade their 
independence for the power and celebrity of serving in the leadership. 
``O'Neill didn't direct his colleagues to do his bidding,'' said Phil 
Sharp (D-IN). ``He entrusted them.''
    The rise of Representative Richard Gephardt, elected in 1976, was 
illustrative. Soon after taking office, the Carter administration had 
discovered that the cost-of-living increases were soaring in a time of 
high inflation and threatening to bankrupt Social Security. The 
Democrats ultimately concluded that a massive hike in the payroll tax 
was the best way to keep the system solvent. To head the Social Security 
Task Force, O'Neill selected the 36-year-old Gephardt, and they pushed 
the bill through the House before the 1978 election season. It passed in 
1977 by a 189 to 163 margin, the largest increase in payroll taxes in 
history--$227 billion over 10 years--but Gephardt and his task force had 
gotten it done. He moved into the leadership's favor and was soon being 
hailed in the press as a force to be reckoned with because of his 
ability to deal with a cross section of House Members.
    O'Neill aide Irv Sprague later wrote a memo to Tip about the task 
force system, saying it triumphed because it ``involved as many people 
as possible and gave them a personal stake in the outcome.''
    ``We have the Policy Committee. We have the Whip Organization 
working. We got the Rules Committee working and we got the Chairmen all 
working together,'' O'Neill told the National Journal. ``They're part 
and parcel of the organization. They're part and parcel of making 
decisions. There are more people in the decisionmaking. That's the way I 
like it and I'm sure that's the way the members like it.''
    It wasn't enough. The Carter years were a political disaster for Tip 
O'Neill's Democrats and justly so. When handing the Democrats control of 
both the White House and the Congress in 1976, the voters had looked to 
the party for competence, resolve, and the promise of national revival. 
Handed the opportunity the Democrats staged a thoroughly miserable 
performance. They had been petty, selfish, and spiteful. They had looked 
beholden to oil companies, the health care industry, and other special 
interests. They had refused to curb their insistent liberal base and 
chosen to fight a destructive and self-indulgent civil war in the 
Presidential primaries. They were intellectually clueless, politically 
inept, and O'Neill stood as the symbol of their failure. I don't know 
how many here remember, but the Republican television commercials showed 
a white-haired burley actor who ran out of gas on a highway. It clicked 
not because it represented just any generic big-city pol, but because it 
lampooned the Speaker of the clownish House in Washington.
    After a fine first year as Speaker with the passage of ethics and 
energy packages, O'Neill's performance had lapsed to adequate in 1978 
and piteous in 1979 and 1980. There were good reasons for the disaster 
and few in Washington were more adept than Tip at deflecting the blame 
toward the White House, the centrifugal effects of congressional reform, 
or the ideological incohesion of his party. But at a time of economical, 
international, and political crisis when his party and countrymen looked 
at Tip, he had failed. His was the party of Tongsun Park and CETA 
[Comprehensive Education and Training Act], of 18 percent inflation and 
gas lines. When they could have been addressing the problem of America's 
economy, the Democrats had spent their time squabbling. The electorate's 
retribution had been just and severe. It was not just that the 
Republicans won--the White House, the Senate and the 33 seats gained in 
the House of Representatives in 1980--it was who won: Ronald Reagan.
    ``Until such time as we nominate a new Presidential candidate you 
are the leader of the Democratic Party as well as the highest public 
official of the party,'' leadership aide Burt Hoffman wrote the Speaker. 
``You are also more than ever the only person in a position to continue 
representing the ideas of justice and compassion.''
    It would be the final battle, the defining historic moment for this 
bruised, old, white-haired guy, and O'Neill knew it. He would sit alone 
in his darkened office brooding over each day's reversals. He would be 
betrayed by captains, scored by old foes, challenged by young rebels in 
his rank. His name and his pride were on the line, but so, more 
importantly, was what he believed. If Tip O'Neill bungled this job, if 
he failed to hold the bridge, the hill, the last foothold, he knew his 
place in history would suffer, but so would Roosevelt's legacy: the 
elderly whose fears of poverty and illness had been eased by Social 
Security and Medicare; the working class kids carrying their families' 
dreams of going to college with the help of Pell grants; the water and 
the air that were getting cleaner and the wilderness preserved from 
    Tip was no saint. Win or lose there would be no canonization of 
Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. In a lifetime in politics, he'd gouged eyes, 
thrown elbows, bent the law, and befriended rogues and thieves. He could 
be mean and small-minded. But at his core there lay a magnificence of 
spirit, deep compassion, and a rock-hard set of beliefs. He had a sense 
of duty that he refused to abandon for those whom Heaven's grace forgot. 
He would sooner die on the floor of the House or watch his party be 
vanquished and dispersed than desert them.
    ``You know you're right?'' his wife Millie would ask him as she 
adjusted his tie at the door in the morning. ``Yes,'' he would say and 
he knew it. He knew it like he knew the sidewalks of North Cambridge, 
the liturgy of the Sunday Mass, or how to stack a conference committee. 
``Then do your best,'' Millie would say and off he would go. He may not 
have had the looks of a movie star but he had great instincts and sound 
judgment and a joy for life that could match Reagan's charm. And like 
the new President, he had an innocence that had survived many years in a 
cynical game, and given time and exposure, would allow Americans to come 
to love him.
    Indeed, Reagan and O'Neill had much in common. They were broad-brush 
types who liked to joke and never let the facts get in the way of a good 
story. They would take a punch and come back swinging. They prized their 
downtime, loved to be loved, and bore without complaint, or much 
interest in correcting, the liabilities of their parties. They each had 
spectacularly talented staffs. Most important, despite their acting 
talents, they stood out among the sharpies and trimmers in the Nation's 
Capital as men of deep conviction. Each was sustained in much the same 
way by his own distinctive mythology. Reagan was the son of the small-
town Midwest, a lifeguard and radio announcer who had made his way to 
the Golden State and become a wealthy movie star. He revered individual 
liberty, and his icons were the cowboys, the entrepreneurs, the singular 
heroes of sporting fields and war. His speeches never failed to cite the 
American Revolution, which had thrown down the government of a rotten 
tyranny and claimed the freedom and rights of man.
    O'Neill was the product of the East. Of the great crowded cities. He 
reveled in the collectivity of purpose and the fruits of charity, 
neighborhood and fellowship. His was the creed of Honey Fitz and Jim 
Curly, Roosevelt, and the Sermon on the Mount. He, too, revered the 
Founding Fathers--but for the magnificent system of government they had 
built which had proven so adaptable and addressed so many social ills. 
Tip O'Neill versus Ronald Reagan. This was no sophistic debate: these 
were world views clashing--hot lava meeting thundering surf. And good it 
was for the country to have the debate--to stake the claim of a ``more 
perfect union'' against the demand for ``life, liberty, and the pursuit 
of happiness'' once again. History was happening. The heritage of the 
New Deal, a philosophy of governing that had lasted for half a century 
was at stake. Reagan didn't want to trim the sails. He wanted to turn 
the ship around and head back to port. For more than 50 years 
Republicans had argued that the country had taken a horribly wrong turn 
in the thirties, that Roosevelt's social insurance programs and the 
taxes that supported them were seductively undermining the American way: 
breeding lethargy, dependence, and corruption of the spirit. Nor was 
there ambivalence at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, in the 
Speaker's lobby.
    As Reagan proved himself so formidable a foe, the Democrats 
scrambled to reinforce their Speaker. Tony Coelho (D-CA), was recruited 
to take over as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign 
Committee, and he raised a lot of money. One of his first acts was to 
put Chris Matthews on the payroll: detached to the Speaker to help, as 
O'Neill put it, with ``the media stuff.'' Once again O'Neill's great 
sense of timing extended to his selection of staff. Leo Diehl was his 
indispensable pal and protector who had notified the wise guys that 
times had changed. Gary Hymel had been a bridge to the southern barons 
and envoy to the pencil press, and he helped Tip run the House when 
O'Neill was majority leader. Kirk O'Donnell was hired in 1977 when the 
post-Watergate era called for a legal counsel with well-honed political 
instincts. Ari Weiss was the Speaker's chief policy analyst. ``I've 
never seen a staff like Tip O'Neill's. There's not even a close 
second,'' said journalist Al Hunt. It said a lot about O'Neill--that he 
was an incredibly secure man.
    Matthews found that O'Neill was self-conscious about his looks, and 
dubious about competing with the movie star in the White House. ``He was 
scared to death of it because it was live television. He was so afraid 
he would say something wrong. He was afraid of being embarrassed. He 
lacked confidence. He was never sure of his looks. He was always talking 
about his cabbage ears and his big nose. He was mean to himself,'' 
Matthews remembered.
    Television news liked simple stories. Reagan was a skilled performer 
and his media advisor, Michael Deaver, and his colleagues were 
exceptionally good at crafting scripted moments in which the President 
could perform. Deaver recalled that cable TV had not yet arrived. You 
could target the three networks and talk to 80 percent of the public. 
O'Neill could never hope to match such superb Reagan moments as the 40th 
anniversary of the D-day landings or the President's rallying address to 
the stunned Nation after the space shuttle Challenger exploded.
    But there was a sturdy journalistic imperative--``get the other side 
of the story''--that provided O'Neill with an opening, as did the 
media's unquenchable thirst for controversy. Reporters from the networks 
and other national news organizations needed a Reagan foil, someone to 
whom they could go and get the other side, and that was a role the 
Speaker could play. But it was a tough, evolutionary process, especially 
for a man who had just endured 3 years of pummeling from the press. 
``You had to beg him to do interviews and when you did your butt was on 
the line. If you strung two bad interviews in a row, you were dead,'' 
Matthews remembered. ``And I wanted desperately to say to him, I let the 
reporters in because I came here to help you become what you can become. 
And the way to do it is to be publicized. And the only way to be 
publicized is to let people write about you and the only way to let them 
write about you is to let them take some shots at you. That's the only 
way to become a figure in American politics. You cannot customize it. 
You cannot come in and tailor it. All you can do is go in, let them see 
who you are and let them make their own judgments.''
    The Speaker, who railed against the Reagan tax bill in July, was a 
far better tailored, scripted and prepared politician than the befuddled 
bear who had opposed the Gramm-Latta budget cuts in May 1981 or who had 
replied, ``What kind of fool do they think I am?'' when House Democrats 
urged him to seek network time to respond to Reagan's triumphant spring 
attack on the Federal budget.
    Said Representative Newt Gingrich, ``If you were to study Tip in his 
last year as Speaker and compare him to the first year as Speaker, you 
saw a man who had learned a great deal about television as the dominant 
medium in his game.'' Democratic pollster Peter Hart remembered, ``At 
the beginning he was the perfect caricature of old-time politics. The 
Republicans took advantage of it. And he was compelled to take a 
position to which he was ill-prepared and ill-equipped, which was the 
voice of the Democratic Party.'' But by 1986 not only was he more 
comfortable with his stature and his feel for the role, but as much as 
the President represented an ideology and a purpose, the public saw that 
Tip represented an ideology and a purpose as well, and it was a purpose 
that as we moved through the eighties, Americans began to see as pretty 
important--that it was an important set of values that this man 
represents. He's not going to allow Congress to cut the safety net or 
the environmental programs or Social Security or education.
    In no small part due to Ronald Reagan, the United States would 
embark on a new entrepreneurial era, claim triumph in the cold war, 
reach giddy new heights of freedom and prosperity, and command both the 
attention and the obligation of greatness at the end of the century. But 
in no small part because of Tip O'Neill, the country would reach that 
pinnacle without leaving its working families and old folks and sick 
kids and multihued ethnic and racial minorities behind. Reagan had 
turned the country in a new direction. The changing world with its 
disorienting pace of economic, scientific, and technological advancement 
would inevitably demand that the mechanisms of the New Deal be 
reexamined and rebuilt. But in 1981 Tip O'Neill drew a line for his 
party and his country and the core of Roosevelt's vision was preserved. 
It was a stirring rear guard action worthy of Horatius at the bridge or 
Kutuzov at the gates of Moscow.
    The final point I'd like to make about the Albert and O'Neill 
speakerships is how many of these changes that were made in this 
period--television, the rise of committees, huge numbers of staff, 
televised sessions of the House--all were seen as liberating, creative 
adjustments by progressives at the time. But they helped bring on the 
end of the Democratic era. The shattering of the seniority system, the 
successful attack upon the old, southern chairmen, the advent of 
television and its effect on the House all helped Republican as well as 
Democratic young turks: Republican names familiar to us now--Jack Kemp, 
Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich. The Democratic reformers had shown the way 
and left it open for a group of real revolutionaries, the young 
Republican entrepreneurs who finally triumphed in 1995 and took back 
control of the House.
    But that's a story for the rest of the day. I'm here to talk about 
Tip O'Neill and to sum up by quoting from Rev. J. Donald Monan's eulogy 
at Tip's funeral. ``Those of us who have lived through the decades since 
the 1930s of dramatic change in the moral dilemmas that modernity 
brings, in the crisis of wars and the threats of war . . . realize that 
Speaker O'Neill's legendary sense of loyalty, either to old friends or 
to God, was no dull or wooden conformity. It [was] a creative fidelity 
to values pledged in his youth that he kept relevant to a world of 
constant change.'' And that, in my opinion, was his greatest genius.
    Mr. HYMEL. Congressman Rostenkowski.
    Mr. ROSTENKOWSKI. I guess what you expect from me today is a 
personal view and, also, a legislative view of Tip O'Neill. I think Tip 
and I had a great deal in common.
    We both came from an urban area. We saw poverty first hand. But, you 
can't look at Tip O'Neill's speakership without first looking at what a 
really unique challenge had been created for him by having Ronald Reagan 
in the White House.
    Reagan was a wonderful public speaker; a classic ``outside'' 
politician who had good sound bites but not creative legislative ideas 
or interest in legislative detail.
    Tip O'Neill was a classic ``inside'' guy. He looked like an old-
fashioned politician. Some people liked that image, some didn't. But, 
there was no avoiding his physical structure. When Tip became the de 
facto Democratic spokesman, it was not an uneven contest. He had a very 
delicate balancing act. President Reagan was tremendously popular and 
the question became how to moderate what he and the Congress were trying 
to do without confronting the President head on.
    In the first context, with the 1981 tax cuts, Democrats foolishly 
got into a bidding war that made things worse than they otherwise would 
have been. A lot of ``blow-dried'' Democrats elected post-Watergate 
thought that O'Neill was the wrong face for the party at that time and 
that it was their turn to govern.
    So, even while Tip tried to present a united Democratic front, he 
was challenged by plotting from within his own party. The fact that 
there never was a public explosion is certainly to Speaker O'Neill's 
    Unlike today's situation, the committee chairmen in the House, 
people like myself, had a lot of independence. The Speaker couldn't 
order them to do anything because they wouldn't automatically all obey. 
When Newt became Speaker, he centralized power, and was able to do 
things, especially involving the scheduling of legislation in the House 
of Representatives that Tip could never have accomplished.
    Tip just didn't have the powers conferred on Newt. I should know. I 
was appointed chief deputy majority whip by Jim Wright. As a matter of 
fact, Tip didn't like the idea that I was going to be the deputy whip, 
but Jim Wright insisted because of the fact that we had had a hell of a 
fight for majority leader. Leo Diehl, a top O'Neill aide, who was 
orchestrating it with the help of Jimmy Howard from New Jersey and Danny 
Rostenkowski, had worked like the Devil along with people like Tony 
Coelho to get Jim Wright elected majority leader. We had been the ones 
who had talked Jim Wright into running for majority leader. Jim was very 
comfortable on the Public Works Committee and, believe me, made more 
friends in the Congress than anyone. But after the election and Tip's 
ascension to the speakership it was kind of an intimate legislative 
    Tip couldn't command Members to do things the way the Republicans 
have done since. Instead, he had to convince them. Tip would put his arm 
around you and give you one of these, ``Gosh darn, you gotta help me on 
this.'' And, in most instances, Members of Congress would bend to the 
wishes of Tip O'Neill. Tip O'Neill had a great deal of faith in the 
system and he had tremendous respect for the individual legislator's 
ability to govern.
    It was in those days when committee chairmen were very powerful that 
Speaker O'Neill recognized that he came from within that group of 
representatives who wanted their voices to be heard. In contrast to the 
present day leadership authority, O'Neill would wait for the legislative 
process to work and come to the Speaker's office. What he did draw out 
of you was a compelling competition to do the job. If you failed, it'd 
be at dinner that night that he'd say, ``Jesus, you know Rosty, you're 
not doing so well over there.'' And, it would really boil me just like 
it would boil John Dingell or it would boil Jack Brooks.
    Tip O'Neill had the ability to convince a legislator because he was 
what was termed ``a legislator's legislator'' himself. He had come up 
through the ranks and been in the trenches and that, I believe, was the 
secret of the successes we had.
    Certainly O'Neill competed with Ronald Reagan. You've got to 
remember that Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, was probably one of the 
most popular individuals who ever came to Washington. He broke all 
precedents. He came to Capitol Hill as President-elect, visiting the 
Speaker in the ceremonial office--never been done before. Came to the 
House of Representatives for the State of the Union Message and violated 
House rules by introducing people in the gallery--never done before. It 
was this ``so-called'' warmth that Reagan expressed and brought through 
to television. To his credit, and I just did a C-SPAN show this morning 
about the creation of C-SPAN, during the time of this creation, no one 
was more influential in having C-SPAN in the House of Representatives 
than Tip O'Neill. Tip worked with C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb as hard as 
I've ever seen anyone ever work to accomplish this.
    I've got to admit that I was on the other side of the argument with 
respect to C-SPAN. But, the day that we initiated C-SPAN, you couldn't 
buy a blue shirt in Washington.
    Tip, in my opinion, depended a great deal on staff, depended a great 
deal on information that came through the legislative process, and tried 
to make judgments based on the coalitions which he could put together. 
He was good at it.
    I'll never forget the first day as leadership when Tip; Jim Wright, 
the majority leader; John Brademas, the majority whip; and Danny 
Rostenkowski, chief deputy whip, went to the White House for an 8 a.m. 
Tuesday morning meeting. We were ushered into a small dining room off 
the East Room where then-President Jimmy Carter was hosting a 
``breakfast'' for the leadership. There were little fingertip sandwiches 
and small biscuits and Tip O'Neill looked at Jimmy Carter and said, 
``Jesus, Mr. President, I thought we won the election for crying out 
loud!'' The next Tuesday, and we were there every other Tuesday, you'd 
have thought we were all ``Paul Bunyons'' at breakfast.
    O'Neill, to his credit, came to the speakership at a time when I 
think somebody up there liked us because it was very tough competing 
with Ronald Reagan. I can say this personally. Ronald Reagan as 
President made my job at the Committee on Ways and Means very easy 
because all I had to do was try to bring Ronald Reagan to the middle and 
he'd bring along the Republican votes that were necessary. That, coupled 
with Tip O'Neill's coalitions, made it possible to pass legislation.
    I've so many pleasant personal memories over the years with Tip and 
Millie, with Silvio Conte, with Bob Michel. In summation, just let me 
say this. Last night, I had dinner with Guy Vander Jagt, Bob Michel, 
Leon Panetta, and Marty Russo. I wonder if in 10 years or 8 years, after 
their service, the present majority and minority leaders will get 
together for dinner. It's a sad commentary.
    Mr. HYMEL. Thank you, Congressman.
    Congressman Edwards.
    Mr. EDWARDS. Well, first of all, I want to say that I probably feel 
more comfortable in this room than some of the other people here, like 
Jim Wright, Tom Foley, and Danny Rostenkowski, because we Republicans 
always had to have our conferences in this room because the Democrats 
were meeting on the House floor, so we couldn't use it. So I've spent a 
lot of time in here.
    I can't tell the personal stories about Tip because I wasn't 
involved in the same way that the members of the Democratic Party were, 
but I do have some reflections I'd like to share. I had great respect 
for and friendship with the men who followed Tip as Speakers--men like 
Jim Wright and Tom Foley--but when I came to the House they were just 
``Mr. Chairman'' and every Democrat was Mr. Chairman of something. But 
Tip was ``Mr. Speaker'' and he remained that. It was not only his 
presence and the fact that he was the Speaker when I came to the House 
and the man who swore me in, but he looked, he sounded, he acted the way 
you would expect a leader of the Nation to look and sound and act. He 
was that imposing and that impressive.
    When I teach my classes at the Kennedy School, one of the things I 
emphasize in the very first class period is the word ``passion.'' That 
politics is about passion. Passion is what drives you to get up and do 
the things you have to do to get elected and to go through the very 
tiresome job of actually being a day-to-day legislator. You really have 
to be driven by your beliefs. All politics is passion just like all 
politics is local. And Tip was a very passionate person as those who 
knew him realized. But he was a different kind of politician when he 
first came to the Congress. He was, in fact, the quintessence of a local 
    He was passionate about issues, but he was passionate about issues 
that mattered to the people in Cambridge and South Boston and the areas 
that he knew. He was not a Massachusetts politician. He was strictly a 
Boston politician, which is a lot different from Brookline or Wellesley 
or Newton. It was inner city. It was neighbors. It was knowing the 
people in the barbershop and the deli and the dry cleaners, and it was a 
very personalized, localized, kind of bring-home-the-bacon politics. So 
he was connected to the local highways and the local hospitals. What he 
did when he came to Congress was to be the voice, the spokesman, for the 
people of his area. Now I didn't realize until I started teaching at 
Harvard that political scientists like to refer to what they call a 
choice between being a ``delegate'' or a ``trustee.'' I had never heard 
those terms before. But in the sense of being a ``delegate,'' somebody 
who really represented the home people, that's what Tip O'Neill's 
politics was about.
    I am reminded of a story about one of my colleagues from Oklahoma, 
Mike Synar, a really fine young man who died all too soon. Mike was once 
interviewed by the New York Times and there was a little flap that 
occurred as to whether Mike was an Oklahoma Congressman or a U.S. 
Congressman from Oklahoma. He, of course, argued that he was a U.S. 
Congressman from Oklahoma, which made people in Oklahoma very unhappy 
because they wanted him to be an Oklahoma Congressman. Well, when he got 
here Tip was a Boston Congressman. He was not a national Congressman in 
that sense. He was very much a local kind of person.
    And then something happened. I've got a photograph that I hope is 
going to be passed out to the tables, something I found as I was going 
through my files. Something happened to Tip that changed his life, that 
changed his speakership, and to a large extent changed the country.
    When Ronald Reagan was elected President, all of a sudden Tip became 
not just the master of the institution which, as Danny said, he ran very 
well by allowing various committee chairs to be powerful in their own 
right. Suddenly, Tip O'Neill became the champion of progressive 
politics. He became the national voice--the passion of the progressive 
politics that had begun with FDR and had continued since and that Ronald 
Reagan threatened.
    What Reagan brought was not only a new vision, but if you were on 
the other side of the aisle, an attempt to really undo a lot of what had 
been done over the previous decade. So Tip O'Neill had thrust upon him 
something he had really not prepared for. He had thrust upon him the job 
of being the last bulwark of liberalism--becoming the champion of the 
forces opposing the Reagan and Bush foreign policy proposals, preserving 
domestic social programs.
    All of a sudden it was Tip not just being in the Speaker's office, 
but taking the floor, taking the microphone, and becoming the voice to 
challenge Ronald Reagan.
    Tip became the Democratic Party, and what happened as a result of 
this was that we had these geniuses over at the National Republican 
Congressional Committee who decided that the way for Republicans to take 
control was to run against Tip, to demonize Tip O'Neill. That's where 
those television spots came from that showed this actor playing Tip and 
characterizing him, and, through him, the Democratic Congress as big, 
fat, and out of control. It turned out that the voters really thought he 
looked a lot more like Santa Claus. The public did not share the 
antipathy toward Tip O'Neill that the Republican Congressional Committee 
had anticipated, and the ad campaign didn't work.
    There was also something else about Tip. I remember Tip, of course, 
as an adversary, as the advocate of what we were trying to change. But 
Tip's word was good. On the one hand, there was the public Republican 
attempt to gain control, and so, those television spots attacking Tip 
O'Neill. But in Republican leadership meetings, we all knew that Tip's 
word was good. He was tough. He was a hard fighter, but he was fair.
    Let me tell a little story. Actually Jim, the story is about you, 
but also there is a lesson here about Tip O'Neill. I got an e-mail 
recently from a political science professor on the West Coast. He said 
he was watching a video of a debate on the House floor and since I was 
very involved in that debate, he wanted my input about what had 
happened. Jim Wright, who was then the Speaker, announced at the end of 
the vote--Republicans, of course, were winning the vote--that he was 
going to keep the vote open so people who had not yet voted could cast 
their votes or people who wanted to change their votes could change 
their votes. As it happened, of course, Jim Wright and his team being 
very good at this, before time had run out, the Democrats were in the 
lead on the vote. Then the gavel came down and the Democrats had won.
    The political scientist wrote to me and said, ``I don't understand 
what happened. The Speaker announced that he was going to keep the vote 
open for anybody who wanted to change their votes, so why didn't you 
Republicans do the same thing and say you wanted to continue this a 
little longer while you tried to change people's minds.''
    So I wrote him back and said, ``I don't think you understood. Jim 
Wright was the Speaker. He had the gavel. He could determine when the 
vote was over.'' The political scientist wrote back to me again and 
said, ``Oh, I understand now. You didn't trust Jim Wright.'' And I wrote 
back and said, ``No, you don't understand. We trusted Jim Wright. He is 
a very honest, decent man, who believed passionately that what he was 
doing was good for the country and that what we were doing was bad for 
the country. And he would do everything that he could within the rules, 
within the proper procedures of the House, to prevail on a cause he 
thought was important.''
    That, I think, is not only what Jim did, but it's also what Tip did. 
What you always knew was that Tip O'Neill could be a tough adversary. 
When we wanted to give Special Orders and make the whole world think we 
were speaking to the entire Congress, he would order the TV cameras to 
pan the Congress and show that we were giving these great orations to 
nobody in particular except a couple of our Members and our staff. So 
Tip was a very tough fighter, but he was always fair. He was always 
decent. He was dignified and people on the Republican side liked him a 
lot--we opposed him, but liked him a lot.
    When he died, people said, ``Well, he was one of a kind. There will 
never be another like Tip O'Neill.'' And I wrote a newspaper column in 
which I said, I hoped that was not true. It would be a terrible loss to 
America if there was never another like Tip O'Neill.
    Mr. HYMEL. Thank you, Congressman. Before we take questions I'd like 
to summarize by saying again that Tip ruled by anecdote and humor, but 
there are four things he should be remembered for and only one has been 
mentioned. First, Tip brought television to the House. A lot of 
discussion had gone on before, and there was a lot of running up and 
down hills by Members and staff. When he became Speaker he said, ``Turn 
on the TV cameras.'' It was that simple and, of course, we wouldn't have 
C-SPAN today if it wasn't for that decision which he made by himself.
    Tip also destroyed the seniority system. One time in the Democratic 
Caucus at the beginning of a Congress, we were doing reforms and Tip 
offered an amendment that you could get a vote on a committee chairman 
if one-fifth of the caucus wanted it. Before that, it was automatic that 
the most senior person on the committee became the chairman--no 
exceptions. Well, Tip's motion passed because you could always get one-
fifth of the Members. Two years later, three chairmen were thrown out. 
Now, the committee leadership always had to run in the whole caucus. 
Seniority didn't mean as much anymore. So Tip was responsible for 
destroying the seniority system.
    A third thing he did was eliminate the unrecorded teller vote. Some 
of the oldtimers might remember that. Just like in the British 
Parliament today, there was a procedure where Members walked through 
lines and were counted and then the majority decided whether an 
amendment wins or loses. Well, Tip and Charlie Gubser, a Republican from 
California, had an amendment that abolished that procedure.
    The other thing was a code of ethics. Tip established a commission 
to write a code of ethics and Representative Dave Obey told me when 
Members came to Tip and said, ``Tip, we have two versions--kind of a 
soft one and a tough one. What do we go with?'' Tip said, ``The tough 
one.'' Tip was linking that with a pay raise. By the way, the ethics 
code did go through and it still exists today. So with that, I'd like to 
ask the first question, if you don't mind, of Congressman Rostenkowski. 
Please embroider a little bit on why would a Member of Congress, who has 
a constituency and his own mind made up, and Tip would come over and put 
that big arm around him and say, ``Can't you help us like a good 
fella?'' And that's all he would say. Why would you then vote with Tip 
    Mr. ROSTENKOWSKI. Well, we have to set the stage for that. We did 
have a cushion. We had a lot more Democrats for a period of time, 
certainly with Lyndon Johnson.
    President Johnson could really work the room when it came to a whip 
count. I think Tip credited Tom Foley and Danny Rostenkowski as probably 
his best whip counters. Once you found out that a certain Member had a 
problem with a particular vote, then you tried to figure out why. Was it 
because he wanted something for his district, say a bridge? Was it 
because he was mistreated by a chairman? Tip would do the groundwork and 
then walk over the rail on the House floor and whisper in that 
particular Member's ear, ``We're going to solve your problem. Now come 
on, you've got to help us here. I mean, this is a Democratic vote. It 
would be embarrassing for us not to pass it.'' And, with this big arm 
around you, you'd cave. He had a natural, warm ability.
    There are so many stories I could tell you about Tip as a person. 
Tip O'Neill would enter a room with his ``God love you, darlin','' all 
of a sudden, he'd take over the party. He was an empowering figure with 
tremendous warmth. Every Democratic congressional campaign dinner, it 
was Tip O'Neill's party, and you'd never leave that dinner without the 
room joining him in singing the tune, ``Apple Blossom Time'' to his 
lovely wife Millie. It was just a warm personality.
    Mr. HYMEL. Thank you. Do we have any questions from the audience?
    Mr. ROSTENKOWSKI. If I may I'd like to say one thing in response to 
what my colleague has just pointed out. Over the years, Tip O'Neill 
formed lasting friendships. One way he did this was that he honestly 
believed that Members of Congress should visit overseas and that we 
should have a legislative exchange with other countries. The most 
outstanding congressional delegation trip that Tip O'Neill organized and 
took was the one to Russia.
    We were the first to be exposed to Gorbachev. Silvio Conte, myself, 
Bob Michel, and Tip O'Neill sat with Mikhail Gorbachev. At that meeting 
Mikhail Gorbachev suggested that we do this more often. You ought to 
come here and visit us; we ought to come and visit you. We reported this 
to President Reagan upon our return, and we told him we felt if there 
was anybody in the leadership of the Soviet Union who was looking for 
democracy, it might well be Mikhail Gorbachev. It was after that 
congressional trip, which Tip O'Neill chaired, that we started to see a 
so-called melting of the Iron Curtain. You can describe congressional 
delegation visits however you want, but they are a very important 
instrument in our democracy and friendship with other nations. Thank 
    Mr. HYMEL. Anyone? Yes?
    Question. Is there anyone in the House today like Speaker O'Neill?
    Mr. ROSTENKOWSKI. The changing of the House of Representatives has 
come so swiftly since I left it. I'm really not as close to the 
membership as I'd like to be. I just don't know of anyone who has the 
chemistry that Tip O'Neill had. Tip O'Neill, even as a liberal, had the 
unique capacity to get votes from the southern Members of the Congress. 
That's why he was able to work so well with people with very different 
backgrounds, like Jim Wright.
    With respect to electing Jim Wright the majority leader, Tip O'Neill 
stayed as far away from that election as he possibly could because we 
had Majority Whip John McFall, we had Representative Dick Bolling, we 
had Representative Phil Burton in the race. Our plan was to get all the 
McFall votes for Jim Wright on the second count. Tip would stay away 
from that and, I think to his credit, when Jim Wright was elected the 
majority leader, he was relieved that he had as stable an individual as 
Jim Wright for the position. I don't know of anyone like Tip today, and 
I don't know that the times are the same now as they were then. There's 
a lot of hate in the air in the House of Representatives and that's a 
sad thing.
    Mr. HYMEL. Congressman Edwards.
    Mr. EDWARDS. I was going to make the same point that Danny did at 
the very end. I don't know the Democratic Members as well as I should 
and I'm not sure that the times have changed for the better, but I think 
it would be very hard for somebody with Tip's approach to bringing 
people together and to lining up votes to succeed today. The balance 
between the two parties is very close. Since 1980, there has been more 
and more of a sharp divide between what the Democrats want to achieve 
and what the Republicans want to achieve, so I'm not sure that's exactly 
what's called for at this time.
    But if I can tell a little story here. I went by to see David Obey, 
who was chairman of the subcommittee of which I was the ranking member--
the Foreign Operations Subcommittee on Appropriations. I've always liked 
Dave, and we were sitting and talking and he said to me, ``Mickey, it's 
not the same anymore. They don't talk to us. They don't let us in. They 
don't let us in on the decisions. It's all very partisan.'' And I said, 
``No, Dave it's not different. You just weren't in the minority then.''
    Mr. HYMEL. Jack, you want to respond?
    Mr. FARRELL. I asked that question of Mike McCurry, who was then the 
press secretary for President Clinton. Mike's theory at that time was it 
would not happen again until conditions were such that ``all politics is 
local'' was again important. You need politicians coming to Washington 
whose basic connection with the voters was on the level of providing a 
winter coat, or that had a gut feeling for what people were thinking. 
And Mike said the Democratic Party is never going to be that Democratic 
Party again until the day that we actually get together and meet at 
bars, or we go out and we do car washes to raise money, like the Kiwanis 
Club, or you bring it down once again to the party of $50 contributions.
    So I would never say that Howard Dean has any kind of personality 
like Tip O'Neill's. I don't know what it is that Howard Dean has tapped 
out there in the country with his Internet fundraising, with the ``Move 
On'' phenomenon, but it's interesting to me that what Mike forecast has 
evolved from out of nowhere. Progressives on that side of the Democratic 
Party are getting together and actually finding that it reinforces their 
values, and they feel that they have a voice by doing this kind of 
small-dollar fundraising that is coming back.
    And for Democrats, it may be interesting to know that any Republican 
fundraiser will tell you that they've had just huge success with small 
donors and with making average people feel part of the cause. Whether or 
not that would ever produce somebody of the kind of charismatic 
personality of Tip would just be a roll of the dice.
    Mr. HYMEL. Thank you Jack. One more thing from Congressman 
Rostenkowski. That will wrap it up.
    Mr. ROSTENKOWSKI. I don't mean to say to you that I believe Tip 
O'Neill was totally unique. It was the time and I think also that Tip 
was blessed with the fact that he had a Bob Michel as minority leader. 
Because, from the day that we opened the session, we were legislators 
and it was not a sin to compromise. If you compromised and you weren't 
satisfied with all you got in the bill, you were coming back next year. 
You were going to get a little more next year.
    Those of us who had programs, and Tip O'Neill had programs, were 
patient. We knew eventually that the social change would come. I believe 
that had Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton listened the first year that 
they initiated comprehensive health reform and done it incrementally, we 
would today have had all we need as opposed to the dissent that's taking 
place today in both the energy and the health bills.
    Mr. HYMEL. Thank you very much for your attention.

              Hon. James C. Wright, Jr., Speaker 1987-1989
                         The Wright Speakership

The Cannon Centenary Conference

The Wright Speakership

    Mr. OLESZEK. To start the Speaker Wright years, let me introduce the 
moderator for this segment, and that is Janet Hook. She is the chief 
congressional correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Previously, she 
covered Capitol Hill for many, many years with Congressional Quarterly. 
Ms. Hook won the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for superlative 
congressional coverage. She is also a graduate of Harvard University and 
the London School of Economics. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to 
turn the podium over to Janet Hook.

    Ms. HOOK. Thank you, Walter. Walter's right. I have been covering 
Congress for a long time. In fact at the very beginning of my career 
working for Congressional Quarterly, I covered Congress when Jim Wright 
was Speaker. It was in covering Speaker Wright's House that I developed 
my now long-term affection for covering Congress. I've found it to be a 
stimulating and tumultuous place to cover. And I first learned those 
lessons covering Speaker Wright.
    Jim Wright's career in the House spanned more than a quarter-century 
of great change in Congress, the country, and the speakership. When Jim 
Wright first came to Congress, Eisenhower was President, Sam Rayburn was 
Speaker of the House, and, at that point, the baby boom was just a bunch 
of babies. When Wright left Congress in 1989, George Herbert Walker Bush 
was President, baby boomers were running around the House, and the 
challenge of running the House as Speaker was far greater, or maybe it 
was just different, than it was for Sam Rayburn.
    Jim Wright began his career in the Texas State legislature and as 
mayor of Weatherford, Texas. He was elected to the House in 1954 and 
quickly found his legislative home on the Public Works Committee. He 
unexpectedly leapt into the House Democratic leadership in 1976 when he 
was elected majority leader in a hotly contested race, which in the end 
was decided by a one-vote margin. That put him in position to rise 
without opposition to become House Speaker in 1987 after Tip O'Neill 
    Jim Wright's role as Speaker was far broader than just being head of 
the House. He was, like Tip, the leader of a Democratic opposition to a 
Republican President. And he left his stamp on more than just House 
procedures. He left his stamp on policy, particularly on U.S. foreign 
policy in Central America where he played a key role in fostering the 
peace process that eventually settled a decade-long conflict in the 
region. He left the speakership and the House in 1989 in the middle of a 
politically charged ethics investigation of the sort that was becoming 
quite common around that time. And it was a trend in American politics 
that Speaker Wright denounced as ``mindless cannibalism'' in his last 
memorable speech to the House. Speaker Wright returned to Texas where he 
has pursued an active life in business, education, and writing. He's 
mined his Washington experience in teaching a popular course at Texas 
Christian University called ``Congress and the President.'' He's been 
writing newspaper columns, reviewing books and lecturing, and we're glad 
he could come here to talk to us about his years as Speaker.
    After we hear from Speaker Wright, we will hear a Democratic 
perspective on Wright's speakership from David Bonior, who served in the 
House for 26 years and rose himself to the upper ranks of his party's 
leadership. He was first elected in 1976 and represented a blue-collar 
district in southeastern Michigan for all those years. And one of his 
first big steps into leadership came during Jim Wright's era when Mr. 
Bonior was named chief deputy whip. In 1991 he was elected majority whip 
by the House Democratic Caucus. He retired from the House in 2002 to run 
for Governor of Michigan. Since then he's served on the boards of 
several public service organizations and he teaches labor studies now at 
Wayne State University.
    After we hear from Mr. Bonior, we will hear from the Republican side 
of the aisle, from former Texas Congressman Tom Loeffler, who was in his 
day David Bonior's counterpart in the House Republican leadership. He 
was chief deputy whip when Bob Michel was the GOP leader, and he helped 
to round up the votes in 1981 for Ronald Reagan's tax and spending 
policies. After leaving the House in 1986, he worked in the Reagan White 
House and with Speaker Wright on resolving the conflict in Central 
America. He's gone on to found his own law and lobbying firm, and he's 
continued to be active in Presidential and party politics. Let's start 
with Speaker Wright.

    Speaker WRIGHT. Thank you for that gracious introduction. I can't 
begin without commenting about the thoroughly sentimental attachment I 
have to this occasion, this day, here in this gracious room. It was 
exactly 31 years ago today--on November 12, 1972--that I had the 
wonderful honor to be married to Betty. And it was right here in this 
room, by the grace of Speaker Carl Albert, that we had our wedding 
    This has been a marvelous, even celebratory, occasion for me. I hope 
that our collective recollections will be beneficial to all of us here, 
and to those who view them on C-SPAN or read of them in the published 
transcript. Looking back in retrospect and rejoicing in remembered 
incidents that some of us shared together reminds me that to be chosen 
by one's colleagues to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House of 
Representatives is probably the greatest honor and among the highest 
responsibilities that anyone could bestow, and I shall always be 
grateful for that enormous privilege. The speakership provides fully as 
much challenge as any Speaker is prepared to accept. Over the years, the 
office has been what changing times and individual occupants have made 
of it.
    Sam Rayburn was Speaker when I entered the House in 1955. He 
impressed me enormously. It was from his example, no doubt, that I 
formed my basic concept of a Speaker's role. Rayburn was an effective 
leader. He saw national needs and made things happen. Under his 
guidance, the legislative branch was more creative than passive. During 
the Eisenhower Presidency, it initiated most of the domestic agenda.
    Mr. Rayburn was a stickler for polite and civil debate. He taught 
that a lawmaker's greatest asset was the ability to disagree without 
being disagreeable. He insisted that Members treat one another with 
courtesy and respect. ``The Speaker,'' said Rayburn, ``always takes the 
word of a Member.'' In his mind, we all were gentlemen--and ladies were 
    One illustration of the way Rayburn led is vivid in my mind. It was 
1957, my second term in Congress. The Senate, for the first time since 
Reconstruction days, voted cloture on a civil rights bill and passed it. 
Throughout the Old South, including Texas, there erupted a cascade of 
editorial and vocal outrage. Several hundred letters of bitter 
denunciation flooded my office.
    As the bill came to the House, Speaker Rayburn sent a page to ask me 
to come to the podium and talk with him. He didn't cajole and didn't 
threaten. I remember exactly what he said: ``Jim, I think you want to 
vote for this bill. I'm sure you're getting hundreds of letters 
threatening you with all manner of retribution if you do. But I believe 
you're strong enough to overcome that, and I know you'll be proud in 
future years that you did!'' As things turned out, he was right on all 
four counts.
    That's the way he led. He appealed to the best in us. Never to fear 
or hate, or negative motivations. That's why I loved him. And that's why 
I wanted to emulate him.
    From this, and from my personal friendships with Speakers John 
McCormack, Carl Albert and Tip O'Neill, I had developed over a period of 
32 years an exalted view of the Speaker's role, maybe even an impossibly 
demanding conception of what a Speaker should be able to achieve for the 

                           Four Policy Changes

    Challenges beset every Speaker. Perhaps my most difficult balancing 
act lay in trying to advance a progressive domestic agenda that I 
thought important, over the active opposition of a popular and 
determined President, while trying to bridge the gap between that 
President and his severest critics in matters of foreign affairs.
    As I prepared to assume the Speaker's office in January 1987, our 
government faced three problems of critical proportions: a historic 
budget deficit, a threatening trade deficit, and a growing social 
deficit. I firmly believed that all three deserved active attention.
    Before I could implement a plan to address these problems, a fourth 
challenge arose. We were suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with a 
shocking constitutional crisis whirling around the Iran-Contra 
revelations. That news exploded on the public consciousness just 6 weeks 
prior to my election as Speaker.
    These four realities of the historic moment would shape the thrust 
and direction of my 2\1/2\ years of tenure. Although clearly related, 
each of these problems represented a separate challenge and required a 
separate strategy.
    What we were able to do was far from a one-man effort. I discussed 
these problems daily with Majority Leader Tom Foley, wise and more 
cautious than I; Majority Whip Tony Coelho, brilliant and creative; and 
my newly appointed deputy whip, David Bonior, a man of forthright 
convictions and trusted implicitly by our Members.

                             Budget Deficit

    The budget deficit, unattended, could doom any serious effort to 
come to grips with the other two deficits. In the past 6 years, we had 
doubled military expenditures (from $148 billion in 1980 to 
approximately $300 billion in 1986) while cutting taxes by approximately 
$165 billion a year.
    As a result, we had almost tripled the national debt. In 6 years it 
had skyrocketed from slightly under $1 trillion to almost $3 trillion as 
I took the Speaker's chair. The annual interest payments on the debt had 
skyrocketed from about $50 billion in 1980 to some $150 billion, 
draining away that much more money from our Government's commitments.
    President Reagan, with all his winsome wit, inspiring charm and 
unshakable faith in what he called ``supply side'' economics, actually 
seemed to believe that we could double military spending, drastically 
reduce taxes for the top brackets, and still balance the budget simply 
by cutting ``waste, fraud and abuse'' in domestic programs.
    Unfortunately, by 1987, the total elimination of all discretionary 
domestic expenditures would not have balanced the budget. The President, 
however, refused to agree to altering course. Obviously, if a change 
were to come, Congress would have to take the initiative.
    It seemed clear to me that the costly drift could not be arrested 
except by a combination of three things: more revenues (translate 
taxes), and cuts in both military and domestic expenditures. No one of 
these three could attain the result alone. Most Members of Congress 
recognized this truth, but convincing them that the public understood 
and would applaud heroic action on the budgetary front was a major 
    What is a Speaker to do? He sees the Treasury hemorrhaging but is 
aware of his colleagues' nervousness about applying the only tourniquet 
that will stop the bleeding.
    I knew how hard it would be to patch together any budget resolution 
that would pass the House, let alone one with real teeth in it. And the 
country sorely needed serious increases in several vital domestic 
    Bill Gray of Pennsylvania was chairman of the Budget Committee and a 
gifted ally. Articulate, knowledgeable and patient, he led the committee 
with skill and understanding as its members worked and groped their way 
toward a realistic plan. Several times, at his invitation, I came and 
sat with them as they talked their way to a logical conclusion.
    The resolution that emerged in mid-spring called for $36 billion in 
actual deficit reduction, half of this in new taxes and half in spending 
cuts. The $18 billion in reduced expenditures was divided evenly between 
defense spending and domestic programs. This budget package passed the 
House by a comfortable margin.
    Congress still was a long way from achieving the goal, but we had 
made a beginning. Ultimately, I would learn just how hard it was to pass 
any tax bill with the White House adamantly opposed.

                              Trade Deficit

    The trade deficit, as 1987 began, was only starting to command 
serious public attention. It had already stretched its fingers deeply 
into American pockets. Six years earlier, at the end of the seventies, 
we were the world's biggest creditor nation. By the time I assumed the 
speakership, our country had become the world's largest debtor. During 
1986, Americans spent $175 billion more for goods from other countries 
than we sold abroad in American-made products.
    A growing number of forward-looking American business, labor and 
academic leaders, alarmed by the trends they saw, had begun to ask for a 
concerted national effort to stem the tide. Our role had reversed from 
seller to buyer and from lender to borrower. We were borrowing from 
other countries not only to finance our purchases from them but to 
finance our national debt. More and more of our Government bonds, and 
more and more private domestic assets were held by foreigners--land, 
banks, factories, hotels, newspapers. We were like a family which used 
to own the community bank but discovered suddenly that it no longer did 
and owed more to the bank than any other family in town.
    The Democratic Leadership Council held its annual conference in 
Williamsburg, Virginia, on December 12, 1986. There I addressed the 
trade issue--the need to improve America's competitive position by 
enhancing productivity, reviving the level of industrial research, 
modernizing factories, updating job skills, and tightening reciprocity 
requirements in our trade agreements with other countries, to include 
fair wages for workers who produced goods in bilateral trade.
    Afterward, I had a long conversation with Lloyd Hand, former White 
House Chief of Protocol. He and I went to see John Young who, along with 
other business leaders, had in the past year at President Reagan's 
request conducted an intensive study of the trade problem. The business 
group issued a report, which they felt had been generally ignored.
    At their encouragement, I began to explore the possibility of a 
national conference on competitiveness to be attended by distinguished 
specialists in the fields of business, labor and academia.
    Eager that our efforts should be bipartisan, I talked personally 
with House Republican Leader Bob Michel and Senate Minority Leader Bob 
Dole, as well as with Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd. All agreed we 
needed such a meeting, and we made up a broad list of invitees. We sent 
out invitations to this blue ribbon list jointly in our four names.
    This conference was scheduled for January 21, 1987, here in the 
Cannon Caucus Room. I talked with Treasury Secretary Jim Baker and U.S. 
Trade Representative Clayton Yuetter, inviting their attendance.
    A week later the invitations went out to the selected cross section 
of experts, and I discovered how difficult it would be to perfect a 
truly bipartisan approach to the trade issue. Both Republican leaders, 
Bob Michel and Bob Dole, called to tell me they were under heavy 
pressure from Reagan administration officials to withdraw from formal 
sponsorship of the event.
    The White House may have felt that we needed no change in our trade 
policies, or possibly it resented congressional efforts to take an 
initiative. I was disappointed but not discouraged. It just meant we 
would have to work that much harder to achieve bipartisan accord.
    The conference took place as scheduled, attended by many Republican 
and Democratic Members of each House. The panel of distinguished 
authorities included corporate executives, union leaders, university 
presidents, and academic specialists.
    So broad was the range of their constructive suggestions--from 
improved job training for America's work force to a renewal of business 
incentives for modernizing America's aging industrial plants, from 
antitrust enforcement to renegotiation of copyright and intellectual 
property rights agreements--that I knew it would require the active 
cooperation of at least 12 House committees.
    On the next day, I hosted a luncheon for House committee chairmen in 
the Speaker's private dining room. In the first 2 weeks of the session, 
the House, at my urging, had already passed a clean water bill and a 
highway bill by votes easily big enough to override vetoes. We had begun 
committee hearings on the first major bill to provide help for the 
homeless. A spirit of ebullience prevailed. We discussed the agenda for 
the year, the bills which would comprise our effort to surmount the 
three deficits. One famous first: committee chairmen all accepted 
specific deadlines for having their bills ready for floor action.
    On the trade bill I promised to respect each committee's turf by 
assigning separate titles of a composite work to the committees that had 
jurisdiction over the varied segments. Chairmen Dan Rostenkowski of Ways 
and Means, John Dingell of Commerce, Jack Brooks of Judiciary, and Kika 
de la Garza of Agriculture each promised to give top priority to their 
segments of this important centerpiece of our common agenda.
    Five days later, following President Reagan's State of the Union 
Message, Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd and I divided the 30 minutes 
allotted by the television networks for the Democratic response. Senator 
Byrd addressed foreign and military affairs and I the domestic policy 
    From the cascade of mail and spontaneous telephoned response, I knew 
within days that we had struck a vital nerve with the public and could 
count on a lot of popular support if we stuck with our promises.
    Eager for a bipartisan approach, I invited leading Democrats and 
Republicans from 12 House committees to sit together around the tables 
in the Speaker's dining room and discuss ways to improve our Nation's 
trade balance. We agreed to incorporate the best ideas from our several 
sources into an omnibus bill and to schedule it for action in the House 
on April 28.
    This omnibus bill, H.R. 3, passed the House with Democratic and 
Republican support by the preponderant vote of 290 to 137. H.R. 3 
represented the most important trade legislation since the thirties. The 
Senate held the bill under consideration for more than a year, altering 
and fine tuning several of its provisions, before finally passing it 
largely intact in the summer of 1988.
    One provision, requiring advance notification to the workers before 
summarily shutting down an American plant, drew the ire of President 
Reagan. He vetoed the big bill, protesting that such a requirement had 
no place in trade legislation.
    We probably could have overridden his veto. To avoid conflict, we 
simply removed that provision, made it into a separate bill, and then 
reenacted both bills simultaneously without changing so much as a comma. 
President Reagan signed the two bills. What mattered to us was the 
result, not winning a partisan fight with the President by overriding 
his veto.

                             Social Deficit

    The social deficit--a growing backlog of human problems and unmet 
social needs here in our country--presented a different challenge 
entirely. As hard as I tried to promote consensus on issues of 
international trade, I knew it would be futile to try to conciliate the 
position of the congressional majority on social policy with that of the 
Reagan administration. Too wide a gulf separated us.
    Since the Reagan budget amendments and tax cuts of 1981, a lot of 
Americans at the bottom of the economic spectrum had fallen through the 
safety net. For the first time since the thirties, an army of homeless 
people had begun to appear on America's streets.
    The level of funding had been cut for education and civilian 
research. Several years of underinvestment had begun to rip holes in our 
social fabric. There'd been a slow deterioration of America's public 
infrastructure--the roads, bridges, airports, dams, navigable waterways, 
underground pipes--all that lifeline network of public facilities on 
which Americans depend. The cities of America, and their problems, were 
being ignored.
    Since 1980 our annual investment in America--public services such as 
education, transportation, law enforcement, environmental protection, 
housing and public health--those things that tend to make life better 
for the average citizen--had declined by about one-fourth.
    Something else, new and alien to the American experience, was 
beginning to appear--the disturbing phenomenon of downward mobility. For 
the first time since polling entered the American scene, a majority of 
Americans were saying they did not expect their children to enjoy as 
good a standard of living as they, themselves, had enjoyed.
    As Kevin Phillips would point out in his book, The Politics of Rich 
and Poor, the gap between rich and poor was widening, thanks in 
considerable part to the conscious economic policies of the past 6 
years--less for student loans to improvident youngsters, more breaks for 
upper-income taxpayers.
    Our spending priorities during the eighties, I was convinced, had 
been badly skewed. A big majority of the Democrats in Congress were 
eager to begin a reversal of the 6-year trend, to restore some of the 
necessary social underpinnings. There was evidence that the public 
supported this objective. Polls showed that 62 percent of the people 
rated the economy ``not so good'' or ``poor'' and 72 percent believed 
Congress must do more for the homeless, for affordable housing and 
educational opportunities.
    As Speaker, I felt a strong obligation to set in motion a reversal 
of the trends that were moving so rapidly toward the concentration of 
America's wealth into fewer hands. This meant confronting the 
administration directly on a wide range of domestic priorities. Tom 
Foley, Tony Coelho, David Bonior, and I agreed that we would have to 
begin with a few identifiable and achievable objectives.
    Getting the Congress and the public to focus on these specific 
objectives was the challenge. In my State of the Union response in 
January 1987, I named six action priorities. We had reserved low bill 
numbers to identify these agenda items. One year later, at the beginning 
of 1988, I was able to give a televised progress report. The clean water 
bill, the highway bill and the trade reform bill were H.R. 1, 2, and 3, 
respectively. Each was passed on schedule and each prevailed over a 
Presidential veto.
    Additionally, we passed the first bill to provide help for volunteer 
groups offering shelters and meals for the homeless, and the first 
important expansion of Medicare for catastrophic illnesses, a bill which 
later would be repealed in a fight over funding. We increased amounts 
for college student aid. We authorized a massive effort to combat drugs, 
and this omnibus bill, like the trade bill, was crafted and passed with 
bipartisan sponsorship and support.
    In 1988, for the first time in more than 40 years, Congress passed 
all thirteen major appropriation bills and delivered them to the 
President for signing into law before the start of the new fiscal year.
    The public responded enthusiastically to this activist schedule. 
Polls showed the American people were giving Congress higher job ratings 
than they had done in many years.
    Of the first three, overriding challenges, the 100th Congress made 
good on two of them--the trade deficit and the social deficit. On those, 
Congress may have earned an A-.
    We did less well on the budget. While the House passed a budget 
resolution cutting the fiscal deficit by an appreciable amount and also 
pushed through by a hard-fought one-vote margin a reconciliation bill to 
carry out that objective, that level of deficit reduction, particularly 
as it involved taxes, could not be sustained in the Senate.
    Our House budget resolution had called for a net deficit reduction 
of $38 billion. We had divided this figure equally among military 
expenditures, domestic expenditures, and selective reductions in the 
Reagan tax breaks of 1981 for some of America's most affluent citizens. 
The House reconciliation bill remained true to this pattern, and 
confronted me with the most legislatively confounding day of my 
speakership. That day was mentioned in the prior discussion segment. 
Looking back, I am not sure I made the right or wisest personal 
judgments that day.
    That was the first and only time in my speakership when our system 
of vote counters failed us. Their composite report had showed we could 
pass the rule for the reconciliation bill. To my great surprise, we lost 
the vote on the rule. The unexpected controversy involved inclusion in 
the bill of some reforms in the welfare system that many Members thought 
should be handled as a separate bill. They prevailed, and the rule went 
    Ordinarily, this would have meant we would have to wait for the next 
legislative day to consider an amended rule. Meanwhile, the news media 
would have had 24 hours in which to trumpet the news that the House, 
confronted with the tough decisions on taxes and the budget, had been 
unable to face up to the hard choices.
    Eager to forestall that, I adjourned the House and reconvened it a 
few minutes later. Technically, we now were in a second legislative day 
and could take up an amended rule and the bill, dropping the one 
disputed provision to be handled separately, on its own.
    That was legal, but it was a rarely used tactic. A good number of my 
Republican colleagues thought my decision heavyhanded. Maybe it was. To 
make matters worse, later that afternoon, on the final passage of the 
reconciliation bill, there was a [one vote--205 to 206--defeat of a 
deficit reduction bill.] Told that Democrats Marty Russo of Illinois and 
George Miller of California, who were recorded ``no,'' had changed their 
minds and were returning from the House Office Building to change their 
votes, I held the vote open for about 10 minutes to accommodate them. 
And their changed votes, of course, would have resolved the vote in the 
affirmative. They didn't return.
    Just as I was about to rap the gavel and declare that the bill had 
failed of passage, Democrat Jim Chapman of Texas did return. He went to 
the well of the House and changed his vote from ``no'' to ``aye.'' That 
flipped the margin. That vital reconciliation bill passed by that one 
    But the way I had handled it provoked a storm of protest among the 
minority. Trent Lott, for one, hit the back of a seat so hard with his 
open hand that I supposed he'd broken it. Others, too, were quite angry.
    The bottom line is that what I'd done that day did not contribute to 
harmonious relations. Although the maneuvers were legal and in keeping 
with the rules, my mind was too determined, my attitude too insistent. I 
believe that I offended a number of my Republican colleagues. I won the 
vote but sacrificed a more precious commodity--good will. In the end, it 
wasn't worth it. If that day were to do over again, I like to think I'd 
do it differently.
    Our ultimate performance on the budget was impressive only in the 
sense that it kept things from getting much worse. Maybe we deserve only 
a C+ on the budget. Maybe a B+ overall.
    As Speaker, I spent a large piece of my political capital in the 
effort to make the tax burden fall more fairly, only to discover that I 
had overmatched myself!
    Any tax bill, I learned to my dismay, was virtually unattainable 
absent the President's agreement. It takes two-thirds to override 
vetoes. We simply could not get public opinion focused clearly on the 
issue of tax fairness and the unambiguous fact that, without more taxes 
from somebody, the budget can never be balanced. Having failed to draw 
that issue sharply enough, I believe my leadership was just not quite 
equal to that particular challenge.


    One major challenge remained--to head off the constitutional crisis 
brewing over the newly revealed Iran-Contra scandal, and to settle the 
bitterly divisive issue of our covert involvement in Central American 
    On three occasions, Congress had voted to discontinue all military 
assistance to the Contras attempting to overthrow Nicaragua's 
Government. In the previous year, we had voted to ban the selling of any 
weapons to Iran.
    Now we learned that a secret group, operating out of the White 
House, had contrived, contrary to these laws, to sell U.S. weapons to 
Iran. Perpetrators had turned over the proceeds, without notifying 
anyone in Congress, to the military forces trying to overthrow 
Nicaragua's Government. President Reagan vowed that he had not known 
personally of this, and I wanted ardently to believe him.
    This was the most shocking revelation since the Watergate burglary 
and coverup. At least four laws--the National Security Act, the Arms 
Export Control Act, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, and 
the Anti-Terrorism Act--had been blatantly violated.
    So flagrant was the flouting of law that a hot volcanic lava of 
anger began boiling inside the Congress. First whispers, the audible 
demands for impeachment proceedings growled in private conversations 
wherever Democratic Members met. Congress was out of session when the 
shocking news broke, but pressure was building. Soon word leaked out 
that Lt. Col. Oliver North was systematically shredding all written 
evidence relating to the illicit adventure before Congress could 
reconvene and subpoena the documents. This fanned the flames to a higher 
    This situation had explosive potential. During December, several 
House committee and subcommittee chairmen contacted me, each wanting to 
schedule hearings on some separate facet of the big story, which 
dominated Washington news that month. Without a clear sense of 
direction, the new Congress could degenerate into a ten-ring circus as 
committees vied with one another for sensational confrontations with 
various officials of the executive branch.
    The last thing we needed was an impeachment outcry, or a frontal 
challenge to the President's personal integrity. Like other Members and 
millions of private citizens, I had agonized through the long weeks in 
1973 that led to the impeachment hearing on President Nixon, culminating 
in his resignation. I wanted no repeat of that scenario. The country 
could ill afford it.
    Determined that all of the pertinent facts must be disclosed in a 
dignified way, preserving the congressional authority without 
precipitating a full scale constitutional crisis, I met with Senate 
Majority Leader Robert Byrd. He felt exactly as I did. We saw no 
national purpose to be served by embarrassing the President personally.
    Jointly, we announced that there would be one congressional hearing 
on the subject, not several. It would be a joint meeting of select House 
and Senate committees. Senator Byrd and I would appoint Democratic 
Members; Minority Leaders Michel and Dole would select Republican 
    Anxious to protect the credibility and prestige of the special 
select committee, I very carefully chose the most respected authorities 
I could find: Chairmen Peter Rodino of Judiciary, Jack Brooks of 
Government Operations, Dante Fascell of Foreign Affairs, Les Aspin of 
Armed Services, and Louis Stokes of Intelligence.
    To signal the importance I attached to this mission, I asked House 
Majority Leader Tom Foley to serve as my personal representative and 
appointed Edward P. Boland to the panel, the principal author of several 
of the laws that had been violated. And I told each of them personally 
that I thought it would be a disservice to the Nation if anyone 
mentioned the word ``impeachment.''
    I thought a long while before choosing a chairman for the whole 
group and finally settled on Lee Hamilton of Indiana, ranking member of 
the Foreign Affairs Committee and former chairman of the House 
Intelligence Committee. He had a reputation for objectivity and a 
judicious, non-inflammatory manner. I did not want the hearing to be, or 
even seem to be, a witch hunt. As much as I disagreed with Mr. Reagan on 
domestic priorities, I disapproved anyone with a private agenda of 
personally embarrassing the President. To complete my list of 
appointees, I named Ed Jenkins of Georgia, a good country lawyer. I was 
not trying to prejudge the committee's findings. I was trying to 
moderate their explosive potential to split the country apart.
    Senator Byrd also chose a responsible panel. He and I agreed that, 
to the extent of our ability to influence it, the hearing must not smack 
of partisanship. It would be open to the media and nationally televised. 
Byrd's chairman, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, was ideally suited by 
temperament and conviction for his role. His demeanor was calm and 
rational. He and Hamilton did their best to be impartial and 
scrupulously fair to Republican colleagues appointed by Dole and Michel 
and to hold down temptations to inflammatory rhetoric.
    Hamilton wanted to agree in advance to an arbitrary date to 
terminate the proceedings. Otherwise, he argued, they could go virtually 
forever to the detriment of other business. He also proposed giving 
limited immunity from prosecution to induce testimony from Lt. Col. 
North, the individual most involved in handling a number of the details 
of the covert transaction. At least two of the House panelists privately 
protested, but a majority agreed to back the chairman's decision. As it 
turns out, this may have compromised the efforts of the special 
prosecutor, Lawrence E. Walsh. But our overriding concern in the 
congressional leadership, frankly, was less in embarrassing the 
administration and sending people to jail than in getting at the truth, 
maintaining the Nation's equilibrium, emphasizing the rule of law, and 
avoiding a bloody constitutional confrontation.
    Additionally, I felt that we had to heal the malingering wound that 
had festered for 5 years over our country's secret and sometimes illegal 
sponsorship of the gory attempts to overthrow the Nicaraguan Government 
by force of arms. More than 100,000 people had died in Nicaragua and El 
Salvador. Congress itself had been closely divided, vacillating between 
funding and rebuffing President Reagan's demands for military aid to the 
    In July 1987, my friend and former colleague, Tom Loeffler, came by 
my office to inform me that he had been appointed by the President as an 
emissary to Congress. We talked about Central America. I told him I 
thought the Iran-Contra revelations had destroyed any chance of the 
President's getting renewed funding to resume the war.
    Tom Loeffler was already a good friend, a fellow Texan, and I 
trusted his word implicitly. He suggested something entirely new and 
different: That as Speaker I join President Reagan in a bipartisan 
initiative for peace. We would jointly call on the Central American 
nations to negotiate settlements in Nicaragua and El Salvador based on a 
cease-fire, political amnesty for those who had been in revolt, and free 
elections to resolve the issues in dispute by popular will. In other 
words, ballots instead of bullets, with assurances of U.S. support.
    That idea appealed strongly to me. After talking with the White 
House, Republican House leaders, and the bipartisan Senate leadership, I 
was encouraged. Some of my fellow Democrats were skeptical of the 
President's intentions, but most felt I should take the risk if there 
were a chance it could lead to peace. I talked also with Secretary of 
State George Shultz, who was instructed by President Reagan to work with 
me in the drafting of a joint statement.
    Before formally agreeing, however, I wanted to test the waters in 
Central America. I had personal conversations with Presidents Duarte of 
El Salvador and Arias of Costa Rica. Both of them rejoiced at the 
prospect. They believed a united propeace front in Washington could lead 
to a series of negotiated settlements throughout Central America and end 
the bloodshed.
    House Republican Leader Bob Michel and I asked Nicaraguan Ambassador 
Carlos Tunnermann to meet with us in the Capitol to probe the Nicaraguan 
Government's probable response to such an initiative as we had in mind. 
``What would it take,'' we asked, ``for your country to get rid of Cuban 
and Russian military personnel, live in peace with your neighbors and 
restore the constitutional freedoms of your people that were suspended 
in the emergency law?''
    Tunnermann answered that his government would be quite willing to do 
all of these things if we would simply ``stop financing the invasion'' 
of Nicaragua.
    The President and I jointly issued the call for a regional cease-
fire, and peace negotiations on August 5, just 2 days before the five 
Central American Presidents were to meet in conference in Esquipulas, 
    The result was better than I had dared hope. The Costa Rican 
Ambassador called me from the conference site to report the happy news 
that all five Presidents had entered a formal agreement embodying almost 
all the elements of the Wright-Reagan plan. The principal architect of 
the Esquipulas accord was President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica. For this 
work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
    At my invitation, Arias stopped off on his way through Washington in 
September and addressed the House. Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan Government 
appointed a peace commission, opened newspapers and radio stations that 
had been shut down, offered amnesty to those who had made war against 
the government, and invited them to participate in the political process 
including truly free elections, which ultimately would be held in 1990. 
The same amnesty procedure was going on under Duarte's direction in El 
Salvador. I was on cloud nine! From my point of view, everything was on 
    At about this point, I discovered that the White House was far from 
happy with the turn events had taken. While I fully expected our joint 
statement to stimulate the movement toward peace, President Reagan's 
advisors apparently anticipated refusal by the Nicaraguan Government to 
comply. Negative comments emanating from the White House gradually made 
it clear to me that highly placed people in the administration did not 
actually want a peacefully negotiated settlement in Nicaragua. They 
fully expected the talks to end in acrimony so they could use the 
``failure'' of the attempted peace efforts as a justification for 
renewing the war.
    This confronted me with a moral dilemma. At the urging of the 
administration, I had joined in the bipartisan call for peace. Overjoyed 
at the initial success of our efforts, I had met, at the White House's 
request, with leaders of the Contra directorate. Most of them, I saw, 
had faith in the peace effort. I also met with the Sandinista leaders 
whenever they came to my office. I was convinced that most Nicaraguans 
on both sides were eager for peace. But some bitterness lingered. 
Someone, aside from me, had to be a go-between, an honest broker who 
could bring the two sides together. Ideally, a Nicaraguan.
    The only Nicaraguan fully trusted by both factions, I had learned 
from trips I'd taken to the region, was Catholic Cardinal Miguel Obando 
y Bravo. Responsible people in both camps agreed that he was the one to 
monitor the cease-fire and help arbitrate the differences. As Speaker 
and co-author of the call for peace, I met with the cardinal, whom I 
knew personally, at the papal nuncio's office in Washington, on November 
13, 1987, and encouraged him to undertake that critical role. He agreed, 
and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, at my personal urging, agreed to 
give the cardinal a free hand.
    The White House, bitterly resentful of my efforts in helping to keep 
the peace process on track, began attacking me angrily in the press. The 
President and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams considered my 
endeavors intrusive and presumptuous. Perhaps they were. But having 
committed myself in good faith to the effort to make peace, I was 
unwilling to be a party to its deliberate unraveling or allow that 
result if I could prevent it. Too many lives already had been lost. As a 
percentage of Central America's population, their war dead would equate 
to something like 5 million Americans--more than we have lost in all of 
our wars combined.
    On two occasions--in December 1987 and February 1988--the 
President's forces tried to forsake the peace process altogether and 
revive the war by renewing military aid for the Contras. On both 
occasions, a majority in Congress voted down the request. At my personal 
urging, Congress did appropriate funds for humanitarian assistance--
food, clothing, shelter and medical needs--for the Contra forces during 
the cease-fire.
    As a consequence of my unwillingness to abandon the effort I had 
helped set in motion, I became a target for many personal attacks, both 
in the conservative press and from some of my Republican colleagues in 
Congress. It is ironic that, in bringing peace to Central America, I 
unconsciously drove a wedge between myself and the congressional 
minority, which ultimately inhibited my capacity to promote consensus on 
other issues.
    In retrospect, I firmly believe I did the right thing. We ended the 
war and brought democracy to the region. One of the unavoidable 
challenges of the speakership is determining when the end result is 
worth risking one's own popularity, perhaps even one's moral authority, 
with a segment of the membership. I do regret my inability to make peace 
between Democrats and Republicans over this issue. Perhaps a more 
cautious, more sensitive, more understanding person could have done 
    Shortly before the inauguration of the first President George Bush, 
the new President-elect and I had a long personal visit over lunch in my 
office--just the two of us. We explored the areas in which we could find 
agreement--including Central America and a balanced budget.
    It was March 1989, with George Bush's blessing, that Secretary of 
State James Baker and I, along with others of both parties in the 
congressional leadership, issued a second statement which clearly 
disavowed the use of American-supported military force, and put all the 
influence of the United States behind the peace negotiation. This 
culminated in the free and fair election from which Violetta Chamorro 
emerged on February 25, 1990, as President of Nicaragua. In a broad 
sense, the fourth goal of my speakership was attained, but its 
attainment used up almost all that remained of my political capital.
    What we did achieve is a result of the unstinting cooperation of 
many dedicated and cooperative Members. I am indebted to Minority Leader 
Bob Michel, as is the country, for his unstinting patriotism and his 
personal kindness. I could have done nothing as Speaker without the 
active advice and support of Tom Foley, Tony Coelho, David Bonior, and a 
host of others too numerous to name here.
    Today, almost 14 years after retiring from Congress, I look back in 
amazement and look forward in hope, grateful to have been one of those 
few privileged to serve our country in this capacity, and hopeful that 
my colleagues and I may have contributed something worthwhile to the 
ongoing success of the dream that is America.

    Ms. HOOK. Thank you very much Speaker Wright. And now we'll hear 
from David Bonior.

    Mr. BONIOR. Good morning. How wonderful it is to be back with so 
many friends to share our experiences and to listen to those who were at 
the helm. Let me also express my thanks to the Congressional Research 
Service, the Carl Albert Research and Studies Center at Oklahoma 
University, and the McCormick Tribune Foundation for their commitment to 
the study of Congress and, in particular, the speakerships we recognize 
and we celebrate today.
    In February 1999, I was accorded the honor of representing the House 
of Representatives at the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan and the U.S. 
delegation was led by President Clinton but it also included former 
Presidents Ford, Carter, and Bush. As we waited in a very ornate palace 
room for the funeral procession to begin, an aide entered the room and 
announced for all to hear, ``Mr. President it is time to proceed.'' I 
could not help but notice at the words ``Mr. President'' that all four 
Presidents, as well as their staffs, moved forward. Despite the somber 
nature of our roles that day, I was moved by the historic moment of 
being with four Presidents--two Democrats, two Republicans. It was a 
remarkable feeling. It was an affirmation of our democracy and I feel 
that very same way today. It is such a privilege to participate in this 
    With wisdom and enthusiasm, Speaker Wright has just shared with us 
his speakership. What I would like to do is comment upon his speakership 
first by offering some thoughts about Jim Wright the man. Second, I want 
to make some observations about the historic 100th Congress which he led 
so magnificently. Finally, I want to reflect upon the role he played as 
we have just heard in bringing about peace in Central America.
    First, Jim Wright the man. Jim Wright has always had a commitment to 
ideas, often big ideas. And his ideas spring from a rigorous 
intellectual foundation. A serious thinker, a prolific writer, Jim 
Wright is a man of letters--a wordsmith, an author of many books and 
articles. He is a literary man. Jim Wright loves history and he 
understands well the prerogatives accorded the Congress under our 
Constitution. Like Senator Robert C. Byrd, Jim Wright appreciated our 
Founding Fathers' fear of granting excessive power to the Executive. He 
was a steadfast champion of the institutional power assigned to the 
Congress. A serious student of Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn, Jim 
Wright could also expound upon the ideas of Henry Clay to whom some 
scholars have favorably compared you.
    Proverbs advise us that where there is no vision the people perish. 
Drawing from his broad historical perspective, Jim Wright had a vision 
and the ability and the will to pursue that vision. He rejected the 
notion that the President proposes and the Congress disposes. Rather, he 
believed as John Barry so very ably illustrated in his book The Ambition 
and the Power that Congress is a body which can initiate, a creative 
body which can lead.
    The columnist Murray Kempton once observed about Walt Reuther that 
Walt Reuther is the only man I have ever met who could reminisce about 
the future. Well, I would likewise add Jim Wright. Jim Wright had an 
unusual wisdom about the connectivity of our past and present to our 
future, and he was famously determined and forceful in pursuing that 
future. A plaque in his Capitol office read, ``Don't tell me it can't be 
done. Show me how it can.'' He's always been a doer. And to be a 
successful doer requires toughness. It requires daring qualities, which 
marked his tenure as Speaker.
    Jim Wright was smart enough and tough enough and daring enough to 
take advantage of rule changes both in the Democratic Caucus and in the 
House of Representatives. You may recall that the newly elected 
Democratic Congress classes of 1974 and 1976 shifted powers away from 
committee chairs and put them on notice that the caucus would not 
tolerate separate committee fiefdoms at the expense of the caucus or the 
House. The days of autocratic rule by the likes of Judge Howard Smith 
(D-VA), on the Rules Committee, were over. The stage was set for a 
Speaker to centralize power and to move a coordinated agenda forward. 
That reality, however, would await the election of Jim Wright as Speaker 
of the House in 1986. As the labor scholar Taylor Dark wrote, ``Speaker 
Wright successfully concentrated power taking advantage of the 
previously unrealized potential of congressional reforms of the previous 
    Together with his loyal and dedicated staff, Speaker Wright 
assembled a team which I was proud to be a part of, including Tom Foley, 
Tony Coelho, Danny Rostenkowski, Dick Gephardt and others. We initiated. 
It was the right time. The stars were aligned. President Reagan's 
Presidency had lost the momentum of its last 2 years. The Democrats had 
just regained the Senate and we had picked up seats in the House of 
Representatives. For 40 years Jim Wright had prepared for this 
opportunity. The previous 10 years were spent as a loyal majority leader 
to Speaker Tip O'Neill's team. Seneca once said, ``Loyalty is the 
holiest good in the human heart.'' Leader Jim Wright had shown that 
loyalty to Tip O'Neill. Now, in turn, Tom Foley, Tony Coelho, and myself 
would demonstrate a similar loyalty to Speaker Wright as he inspired us 
with his passion and with his enthusiasm.
    And so we turn to the 100th Congress. In Jim Wright we had a 
populist and an egalitarian as our Speaker. Seizing the moment, he 
crafted an agenda that resulted in one of the most productive Congresses 
in the history of the country. As the Speaker himself has recounted for 
us all, parts of the legislative machine were finely tuned so that when 
he started the engine in January 1987, our agenda would take off.
    In preparation, Jim Wright gathered the committee chairs. He said he 
would be fair with them but that certain priority bills must be reported 
and reported on schedule. And, I'll tell you, I remember that meeting--
the first one--with each chairperson taking the measure of their new 
leader knowing he was tough. There was no doubt about his expectations. 
Yes, these committee chairs would parent their legislation, but they 
would work with a progressive whip operation.
    As a member of the Rules Committee appointed by Speaker Tip O'Neill, 
I knew where my responsibility to the caucus rested, in my appointment 
by the Speaker. Speaker Wright requested a meeting with each Democratic 
Rules Committee member, individually seeking their interest in serving 
another term and clearly conveying his expectations. This unprecedented 
process was another expression of Speaker Wright's determination to get 
off to a quick start.
    Beside Speaker Wright, Tom Foley had the most experience in our 
leadership ascending from whip to majority leader. He was a generous 
source of counsel in helping us navigate the rules and the precedents 
and the substance and the politics. And, of course, Tony Coelho brought 
enormous talents to our whip operation, which met with stunning success 
especially in the early months. As effective as Speaker Wright was 
within the institution, he was equally impressive in rallying the 
support of the outside. You've got to have an inside and an outside.
    A very close relationship existed between Jim Wright and the AFL-
CIO, especially Lane Kirkland, its president; and Bob McLaughton, its 
chief lobbyist on the Hill. The AFL-CIO saw the 100th Congress as a 
moment of opportunity. Kirkland appointed McLaughton, an African-
American, and Peggy Taylor as his assistants, adding much diversity to 
their operation. In addition, three important international unions 
during the eighties returned to the AFL-CIO: the UAW, the Mineworkers, 
and the Teamsters. A valuable symbiotic relationship developed. Our 
leadership would reinforce the concerns of labor and working people. The 
AFL-CIO would, in turn, support a broad array of issues. So there was 
born a process of effective cooperation between Capitol Hill and the 
``House of Labor'' on 16th Street. Bob McLaughton was able to speak 
forcibly for a united labor movement and their growing army of lobbyists 
on the Hill. Indeed, his virtual authority to make a deal on the spot 
was crucial to our effectiveness in moving bills quickly and 
    So no one in our caucus would mistake our priorities, Speaker 
Wright, as he has just illustrated for us, reserved the first several 
House bill numbers for the clean water bill, the highway bill, and the 
omnibus trade bill. During the first 2 weeks, we passed the clean water 
bill and the highway bill by enough votes to overcome a Presidential 
veto. A few months later H.R. 3, the most significant trade bill since 
the thirties, passed by a vote of 290 to 137, again enough to override a 
veto. We inserted one of the most important labor provisions that the 
Congress would enact in the eighties--the plant closing and notification 
bill--into that trade bill, which Reagan vetoed in May 1988. We also 
reported out the plant and notification bill separate from the trade 
bill, and they both went to the President and became law. In 1981 the 
AFL-CIO's rate of success in the House of Representatives during the 
Reagan Presidency was 47 percent. Under Jim Wright, it went up to 92.8 
percent in 1988.
    In addition, the 100th Congress passed into law major bills to aid 
the homeless, the first important expansion of Medicare for catastrophic 
illnesses, and a welfare reform bill with progressive features to move 
people from welfare to work. Amazingly, the Congress also passed all 13 
major appropriation bills and delivered them to the President for 
signing into law before the start of the new fiscal year.
    There were sure to be some legislative disappointments for Speaker 
Wright. When the budget deficit exploded out of control, as he has just 
recounted for us, Speaker Wright early on in our caucus pushed hard for 
tax fairness. But in his own words, he admitted, and I quote, ``I spent 
a large piece of my political capital in the effort to make the tax 
burden fall more fairly only to discover that I had over-matched 
    Well, many also thought that he had overmatched himself in 
challenging President Reagan in Central America, but his critics 
underestimated Jim Wright's passion for peace. He was not about to 
surrender his constitutional responsibilities. The right to declare war, 
as written in Article I of the Constitution, rested with the Congress. 
Henry Clay, who became Speaker in 1811, was the last Speaker to dominate 
foreign policy. Too many subsequent decades of congressional 
acquiescence had accompanied American foreign policy, none more 
devastating and misplaced than during the Indo-China war in the sixties 
and seventies.
    A new crop of Vietnam generation legislators increased the 
congressional role in foreign affairs from enacting the War Powers 
Resolution to an aggressive human rights advocacy campaign. With the 
Contra war and the war in El Salvador ravaging Central America, claiming 
some 100,000 deaths, some of us were not going to tolerate it in silence 
or without a legislative fight. The previous legislative abdication had 
lasted 16 years and cost over 58,000 American lives and over 1 million 
Vietnamese lives.
    Ronald Reagan gave more speeches on Nicaragua than on any other 
issue of his Presidency. During the eighties, we had 15 major debates on 
the House floor on this contentious issue, voting three times to cut off 
all military assistance to the Contras. Secretary of State Jim Baker 
accurately noted, and I quote, ``The war in Central America was the Holy 
Grail for both the left and the right in the United States. It was the 
divisive foreign policy issue.'' Personally, I sometimes felt as if I 
spent more time in Managua and San Jose and San Salvador than in my own 
    The Reagan doctrine and the Monroe Doctrine were colliding with 
self-determination and with liberation theology. The mix was volatile 
and deadly and the region had spun out of control. Into this maelstrom 
stepped Jim Wright. Once again he was the right person at the right 
time. He spoke Spanish. He was a student of the region. He personally 
knew the leaders. Speaker Wright has told us how he proceeded--the 
meetings with Ambassador Tunnermann; the Wright-Reagan plan; the 
Esquipulas accord; our meeting with Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo; our 
continued fight to keep military aid from the Contras; our furious work 
to wind this all down while we had the momentum.
    Before I close permit me to share one personal story that I'm sure 
Tom Loeffler will elaborate on. When Tom came to see the Speaker about a 
joint peace proposal, I was adamantly set against it. I did not trust 
the administration. I thought it was another setup that would fail and 
when it did the floodgates for more military aid would open up. I 
strenuously pressed my point of view in a very emotionally charged 
meeting. Finally, the Speaker said to me, ``People who are interested in 
peace do something about it.'' I paused. I thought. I reflected. I went 
    While I had lost faith in the administration, I had not lost faith 
in Speaker Wright. It became my job, along with Tom Foley and others, to 
sell the proposal to our caucus. You know, sometimes you just have to 
take a chance for peace. You do not make peace with your friends. You 
make peace with your enemies. This lesson I learned from Jim Wright. In 
a handwritten ``thank you'' to Jim Wright, Secretary Baker wrote, ``But 
for you there would have been no bipartisan accord, without which there 
would have been no election.''
    President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, winner of the Nobel Peace 
Prize, which many believe should have been shared with Jim Wright, 
included in his ``thank you'' to Speaker Wright the following, and I 
quote, ``Those [who advocated] peace will not forget you and thank you 
for your vision and your deep commitment to the highest ideals of 
justice, peace, and progress. The Esquipulas II process finally moved 
forward and is showing visible results for 28 million Central 
Americans.'' President Arias continued, ``The Wright-Reagan plan, the 
bipartisan agreement between the Congress and the Executive, and finally 
the change in policy of the Bush Administration toward Central America 
are a testimony and confirmation that you were not mistaken. In truth, 
you did more for us in Central America than many of those who here call 
themselves standard-bearers of freedom. I feel that it has been a 
privilege to know you. Count me among your friends,'' concluded 
President Arias.
    Wallace Stegner, one of our greatest American writers, wrote of 
friendship in his fine novel, Crossing to Safety. He said this about 
friendship. ``Friendship is a relationship that has no formal shape. 
There are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or families. 
It is held together by neither law, nor property, nor blood. There is no 
glue in it but mutual liking. It is therefore rare.'' Jim Wright is my 
dear friend. He has many friends in this room and around the country and 
around the world. He has done marvelous good deeds in his life. With a 
lust for life, he continues to live productively contributing to the 
public dialog, teaching at TCU, enjoying his many friends and family. 
John Barry captured my intense respect and admiration for Jim Wright's 
speakership with these words, ``The ambition belongs to many men but 
none more than Jim Wright. He would use the 100th Congress of the United 
States, convened during the Bicentennial anniversary of the Constitution 
to earn his place in history. He would rise up and fill the sky with 
lightning bolts and he would become a target for them.''
    Mr. Speaker, it was a high honor to be part of your team. Bless you 
and Betty for your extraordinary service to our country.

    Ms. HOOK. Thank you very much, Mr. Bonior. And now we'll hear from 
Tom Loeffler.

    Mr. LOEFFLER. Thank you, Janet. It is an honor for me to be included 
amongst this distinguished group, and to be able to share my 
observations concerning an individual I admire and respect, Speaker Jim 
Wright. I'm delighted to appear with David Bonior. In one of the 
highlights of Jim's career, David's career, and my post-House career, we 
were able to work together to bring about something that was 
extraordinary given the political climate of the time. In a moment, I 
will go into more detail on the remarkable achievement, which would 
never have been possible without the leadership of Speaker Wright.
    As a Texan fresh out of law school and new to Washington, D.C., I 
had the great opportunity to grow up under the tutelage of Senator John 
Tower. I also had the privilege of working in the Ford White House, 
where I met many of my senior congressional colleagues before I actually 
served alongside them in the Congress. I can recall a moment in December 
1976 after the election of Jimmy Carter when the newly elected Members 
were convening to organize the new Congress for 1977-1978. The 
tickertape in the East Wing of the White House was just going nuts. I 
walked over to it, and I looked, and it says: ``Jim Wright wins by one 
vote'' the majority leader position in the House of Representatives. 
Little did I know that 2 years later I would be his colleague.
    Before I speak of Jim Wright in a global way, I wish to share with 
you the perception of those of us who served with him in the Texas 
delegation. Whether we were Democrats or Republicans, we knew that 
Speaker Wright had an incredibly tight rope to walk. Politically, he did 
this in a very adroit fashion because Texas politics were changing. In 
1971, when I was beginning my work with Senator Tower, Texas was 
evolving into a two-party State.
    It is important to understand that as Jim grew in leadership within 
this body, his advocacy for issues didn't necessarily jive with the 
evolving Texas political landscape. Through his astute political skills, 
Jim was able to continue to grow in leadership within his party, 
ultimately rising to the pinnacle of Speaker, while still having the 
absolute stout support of all Texans. He did all this in spite of the 
changing party dynamic back home. And remember in Texas, as we were 
reflecting upon the O'Neill speakership, Texans liked to poke fun at 
Tip. But that never transferred to Jim. Even before he was part of the 
official leadership on the Democratic side, he was a capable leader in 
the Texas delegation. Jim was always there to help on every issue that 
was a Texas issue, whether it was in a Democratic congressional district 
or a Republican congressional district. There was a bond among those of 
us in the Texas delegation where we always knew that when there was a 
day of reckoning and we needed help for Texans, Jim Wright would be 
right by our side.
    Jim Wright's word is his bond. He is one of the fairest people that 
I have ever worked with. He is also one of the most articulate Members 
that this Congress has ever had or will ever have in its body. Mr. 
Speaker, I will never forget the time at a Texas State Society luncheon 
when you and Senator Tower were speaking together, and, all of a sudden, 
Tower became quiet. Never one to yield the floor, unless of course he 
was good and ready, I asked the Senator why he had stopped talking. He 
answered very strictly, ``Because I didn't want to take Jim Wright on. I 
knew I'd lose.''
    The final comments that I have concern the formulation of the 
Wright-Reagan plan. I had left Congress to return to my home State and 
run for statewide office, as David Bonior recently did in Michigan. 
After my failed run for Governor, I had a call from Howard Baker asking 
me, on behalf of the President, if I would return to the White House to 
work with my many friends in Congress to bring about a unique and 
unbelievable occurrence. It was President Reagan's hope that the 
Congress and the White House would speak with one voice on American 
foreign policy as it related to Central America. In my lifetime I could 
not remember when that had been the case.
    After I arrived at the White House, my first call was to Jim Wright. 
I went to his leadership office and we sat down and began a frank 
discussion. As we concluded, the only thing that we could give to each 
other was the understanding that we would be honest with one another, we 
would tell each other the truth, and if we could move it forward on 
behalf of the President and the speakership, we would. And, if we 
couldn't, we would shake hands and go about our business knowing that we 
had done our very best.
    Before returning to the White House, I stopped in to see Minority 
Leader Bob Michel and reported that in our meeting the Speaker indicated 
an extremely high interest in moving this forward. As one could have 
expected, after our initial meeting a lot of things happened that nearly 
derailed the process. I remember when David Bonior and Majority Leader 
Foley and I were alone after one of Speaker Wright's meetings--Trent 
Lott and Bob Michel had gone off, and Tony Coehlo and Jim had gone off--
and the two of them looked at me and said, ``Do you know what you're 
doing to the Speaker? You're absolutely setting him up.'' All I could 
say was, ``I hope not.'' They, obviously being very honorable and very 
close friends with respect for me and knowing what a failed outcome 
could mean, said, ``We pray you're not.''
    During the course of this 10-day period, something rare and 
significant occurred. Speaker Wright and Senate Majority Leader Bob Byrd 
convened a meeting in H127. The room was full, 25 to 30 Members of 
Congress on both sides of the aisle, along with Secretary of State 
George Schultz and Colin Powell, Deputy National Security Advisor to the 
President. Here the initial parts of what was being discussed between 
the congressional leadership and the administration were laid out for 
those who would be critical in seeing the legislation through. This 
group consisted of such people as Congressman David Obey and Senator 
Jesse Helms, and everyone in between. That meeting--and all of our 
meetings for 10 days--never became public knowledge. If they had gone 
public, I do not believe that the Wright-Reagan plan would have reached 
    The night before the Speaker and the bipartisan congressional 
delegation from the House and the Senate arrived at the White House for 
the final stamp of approval on the Wright-Reagan plan, Jim Wright called 
and said, ``You know, Tom, we've had a great run together. You know the 
President and I are not the closest of friends. I would really like to 
do something that would be meaningful to the President because I know 
this is an unbelievable moment, and I know that he has shot straight 
with me, been honest and fair, and this is going to be a big day. What 
would you suggest?'' After some thought, the commonality of their 
western influence struck me, so I said, ``Jim, why don't you wear your 
black ostrich boots?''
    Well, the morning that everyone was arriving at the White House, we 
had a few little glitches that we had to iron out, and I was never able 
to get to the President and give him the heads up on Jim's wearing of 
cowboy boots as a friendly gesture. So, everyone went in, and I was the 
last one into the Oval Office. The President was sitting with Jim at his 
side, and I'll be darned if President Reagan didn't turn to the Speaker 
to say, ``Jim, I sure like those boots.'' And I thought at that moment: 
``We've made it!''
    Jim is a rare breed in our business. A most distinguished gentleman, 
master politician and negotiator, loyal and honest as the day is long. 
Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted we've had a chance to play a role together. 
And I'm honored to stand here today once again by your side. Thank you.

    Ms. HOOK. Thanks very much Mr. Loeffler and Mr. Bonior, and I'm sure 
many of you would like to ask questions of the Speaker. We're running a 
little late though, but I'm sure Speaker Wright will be around and maybe 
you can approach him and talk to him informally. I'd just like to close 
by thanking Speaker Wright for traveling here to join us today and 
thanks to the Congressional Research Service for making this whole panel 
    I want to close by recalling a line that I remember. I don't know 
what the context was when Mr. Wright said this but it stuck in my mind 
while I was covering him and it has stuck in my mind for many years. I 
think it's something that summarizes Jim Wright's ambitious approach to 
the speakership. He once said, ``We make a greater mistake when we think 
too small than when we think too big.'' Thank you all very much.

                  Hon. J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker 1999-
The Cannon Centenary Conference

The Role of the Speaker

   Reflections on the Role of the Speaker in the Modern Day House of 
    Mr. MULHOLLAN. It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce Robert 
Michel, who served in the House of Representatives from 1956 to 1994 and 
was the Republican leader from 1981 until his voluntary departure from 
the House.
    I think it is appropriate on this day after Veterans' Day to 
acknowledge Mr. Michel's service with the 39th Infantry Regiment as a 
combat infantryman in England, France, Belgium, and Germany from 
February 10, 1943 through January 26, 1946. He was wounded by machine 
gun fire, awarded two Bronze Star medals, the Purple Heart, and four 
battle stars.
    In 1993, Mr. Foley said of Mr. Michel, ``As prevailing political 
philosophies have changed over the years, Bob Michel remains steadfast 
in his commitment to consensus in the interest of the nation and the 
institution of the House of Representatives.'' It is the esteem that Mr. 
Michel holds for this institution of Congress for which we are all 
grateful. Thus, it is so fitting that he introduce our next Speaker, 
Dennis Hastert, who, on assuming the speakership of the House, was 
quoted as saying that he would try to emulate ``the humility and grace 
of his one-time mentor, Bob Michel.''
    Mr. MICHEL. It was indeed a distinct honor and privilege to serve, 
and what a fulfilling experience it was. I've enjoyed so much this 
morning's session listening to the comments from all those who 
participated. My role here at the moment is to introduce the current 
Speaker and I relish that opportunity.
    In times of crisis, the United States always seems to find exactly 
the right leader--maybe we're just plain lucky. Maybe it's the 
flexibility and the responsiveness of our political system. Or maybe 
it's the working out of divine providence, although it is probably not 
politically correct to say such a thing these days. The House of 
Representatives in 1999 found in Denny Hastert exactly the right person 
for the right job at the right time. In sports, we say about certain 
players that they lead by example. In 1999, the House, where words mean 
so much, was at a point where rhetoric could not do the job of healing 
and renewal. The House needed a leader who would lead by example. The 
House didn't need any more hype. It needed reason to hope. The House 
needed a leader who was capable of walking the walk, not just talking 
the talk. The House needed someone with a solid foundation of character 
on which, over time, trust could be rebuilt.
    The House found all of these things--yes, and much more--in Denny 
Hastert. Winston Churchill once said short words are the best words. And 
old words, when short, are the best of all. Churchill in this, as in so 
many other things, was right. When we think of Denny Hastert, we think 
of old words, simple words, strong words. Words like trust and strength, 
fairness, faith, decency, honesty, integrity and courage. History will 
say of Denny Hastert that in a moment of institutional crisis, the House 
of Representatives was led by his example, strengthened by his resolve, 
and renewed by his character. It is a distinct honor and high privilege 
for me to introduce a man who continues to lead by example, my dear 
friend, the Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert.
    Speaker HASTERT. Bob, thank you for that very kind introduction. I 
want to thank you, Bob, for what you've meant to me. You were my first 
mentor here in Washington.
    You, Bob, the man who should have and deserved to be Speaker, taught 
me the value of patience. You took me under your wing when I first came 
to Congress, and you showed me how Congress worked. You helped me with 
my committee assignments, and gave me my first leadership responsibility 
heading up the Republican leader's Health Care Task Force in response to 
First Lady Hillary Clinton's efforts on health care. You taught me that 
it is the workhorse who wins in the legislative game, not the show 
    Your cheerful demeanor hid a will of steel, and your abundant common 
sense served your colleagues and your country well.
    Bob, we know that you are going through a tough time with the loss 
of your beloved wife Corrine. We share your grief. Know that our 
thoughts and prayers are with you during this most difficult time.
    I appreciate this opportunity to reflect on my current job. Clearly, 
the role of the Speaker has changed over the years. It has changed 
because of the times, because of those who have occupied the office, and 
because of the nature of the institution.
    Joseph Cannon, the man from Danville, ruled from the Speaker's chair 
with iron power. Tip O'Neill ruled with Irish charm. Newt Gingrich 
brought star power to the office. Sam Rayburn ruled for a generation, 
while Joe Martin had only a fleeting chance to assert Republican 
    Each used their principles to guide them in times of great 
challenge. O'Neill was challenged by a popular President, Carl Albert 
was challenged by a constitutional crisis, Rayburn through war, and Tom 
Foley by a series of institutional crises.
    I have my own set of principles that have worked for me.
    I never thought I would be Speaker. I didn't run for the job. I 
didn't campaign for it. I didn't play the P.R. game. I just did my job 
as best I could for my constituents and for my colleagues. In fact, if 
you had asked me to predict Newt Gingrich's successor, I wouldn't have 
been on my own list.
    My first principle is one I learned from my friend Bob Michel. To be 
good at the job of Speaker, you must be willing to put in the time to be 
a good listener. By this, I mean you must listen to the Members of the 
    Before I became Speaker, I thought I knew the importance of paying 
attention to Members' needs. I had served in the whip organization when 
Bob Michel was leader and I served as chief deputy whip when Newt 
Gingrich became Speaker.
    When you are a whip, you need to listen, because to get and win 
votes, you need to hear what the Members are saying. But when you are 
Speaker, the sheer volume of voices is increased, and the problems 
become more difficult to solve. I learned that the best way to find 
solutions was to get people around the table to talk it through.
    When you have a small majority, like I have had for pretty much my 
entire tenure, you have to do a lot of listening. And when you talk, you 
have to keep your word.
    That brings me to my second principle. When you are Speaker, people 
expect you to keep your word, and they will not quickly forgive you if 
you cannot deliver. I learned that keeping your word is the most 
important part of this job. You are better off not saying anything than 
making a promise that you cannot keep. And you have to keep both the big 
promises and the small promises.
    My third principle is that a Speaker must respect the power of 
regular order. I am a regular order guy.
    I think it is important to rely on the committees to do their 
hearings and markups. I don't like to create task forces to craft 
legislation. The committees are there for a reason, and we should use 
them. There are times when you need to establish working groups to 
coordinate the work of standing committees when big projects cross 
jurisdictional lines, but those working groups should ``coordinate'' not 
supplant the committee structure. I have also found that it is easy to 
find the problems in legislation through the committee process.
    My fourth principle is that while a Speaker should strive to be 
fair, he also is judged by how he gets the job done.
    The job of the Speaker is to rule fairly, but ultimately to carry 
out the will of the majority. Unlike some other parliamentary bodies, 
the Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives is the leader of his 
party. He is not merely a disinterested arbiter of parliamentary rules. 
This creates a unique tension within the Office of the Speaker. It is 
not always easy to be fair when you have a vested interest in the 
outcome. But if the chair is seen as being unfair, the likely result is 
a breakdown in parliamentary comity. We take the job of fairness very 
    We seek our best parliamentary experts to serve in the chair as 
Speakers pro tempore, people like Ray LaHood, Doc Hastings, Mac 
Thornberry, Mike Simpson and others. We also have professional 
Parliamentarians who avowedly are non-partisan. Charlie Johnson and his 
team play a critical role in advising me on jurisdictional referrals and 
parliamentary judgments from the chair. This is traditional stretching 
back beyond Louis Deschler, and it is a good tradition. We make certain 
that those serving in the chair do not serve on the committees of 
jurisdiction for the business on the floor.
    And we try to be fair in the Rules Committee process. We guarantee 
the minority the right to recommit the bill with instructions, giving 
them one last chance to make their best arguments to amend the pending 
    But while we strive to be fair, we also strive to get the job done. 
We are not the Senate. The rules of the House, while they protect the 
rights of the minority, also insure that the will of the majority of the 
House will prevail.
    So, on occasion, you will see us taking effective action to get the 
job done. Sometimes, we have a hard time convincing the majority of the 
House to vote like a majority of the House, so sometimes you will see 
votes stay open longer than usual. But the hallmark of an effective 
leadership is one that can deliver the votes. And we have been an 
effective leadership.
    My fifth principle is to please the majority of your majority. On 
occasion, a particular issue might excite a majority made up mostly of 
the minority. Campaign finance is a particularly good example of this 
phenomenon. The job of Speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs 
counter to the wishes of the majority of his majority. As in campaign 
finance reform, our majority thought it was a bad bill that weakened the 
party structure and promoted abuse by special interests. As a side note, 
the emergence of 527 organizations in the next election will prove our 
point that special interests, and not political parties, will have more 
influence because of campaign finance reform. So we fought the efforts 
by advocates of campaign regulation to pass it. They did what they 
thought they had to do, getting enough signatures to sign a discharge 
petition. I made them go through that process twice in order to prove 
two points. First, I wanted my troops to know I opposed the bill. 
Second, I wanted to let them know that I had no choice but to schedule 
the legislation. I was not going to abandon my party's position under 
any circumstances.
    On each piece of legislation, I actively seek to bring our party 
together. I do not feel comfortable scheduling any controversial 
legislation unless I know we have the votes on our side first.
    My sixth principle is the Speaker's job is to focus on the House and 
nothing but the House. This is a big job. It is a time-consuming job. 
And it is an exhausting job. I said that when I became Speaker, I would 
focus only on running the House. And I found out that means more than 
just sitting in the Speaker's chair. It means doing those things 
necessary to keeping the majority, whether that means fundraising for 
incumbents or campaigning for challengers. You don't see me spending too 
much time on television shows, or giving big speeches. I have no 
interest in running for President or making the jump to the Senate. This 
is an important and big job. And it requires singular focus to get it 
    My final principle is my most important principle: Never forget who 
sent you to Congress in the first place--your constituents. I get home 
to Illinois every weekend. Of course, it is nice to see my wife, who 
inevitably gives me a list of chores to complete when I get there. But 
it is also important to see my friends and my constituents.
    It is very easy to get lost in the muddle of Washington, DC. The 
world of amendments, campaign fundraisers, motions to recommit, and 
jurisdictional battles is foreign to Yorkville, Illinois. As a matter of 
fact, most of my constituents are none too impressed with the trappings 
of power. My constituents sent me to Washington not to argue, not to 
debate. They sent me here to get the job done. They are not content to 
play the blame game, they don't want to hear about how this bill died in 
the House or that bill died in the Senate. They want us to pass laws 
that make their lives better.
    When I go home, I am not Mr. Speaker. To my wife and friends and 
voters, I am Denny. And I tell you, that healthy dose of humility does 
me a world of good every time I come back here to Washington. It helps 
me to connect to what the American people are really thinking about, and 
it helps me to understand what concerns my colleagues are facing.
    At the end of the day, the Speaker of the House is really just the 
guy who stands up for the people of America. In our Constitution, the 
Speaker of the House is the first officer mentioned, because in our 
system of government, it is the people who rule. Since January 1999, I 
have had the great honor and privilege to be that guy. Thank you for 
inviting me here today and for this most fascinating symposium. I wish 
you the best of luck the rest of the day.

                 Hon. Thomas S. Foley, Speaker 1989-1995
                          The Foley Speakership

The Cannon Centenary Conference

The Foley Speakership

    Mr. OLESZEK. It's my pleasure to introduce Jeff Biggs as our 
moderator for the Foley speakership. Mr. Biggs was a long-time press 
secretary to Speaker Foley. I want to point out that Mr. Biggs and 
Speaker Foley co-authored a book on Mr. Foley's career in the House, 
which I recommend to all of you, entitled Honor in the House. It was 
published in 1999 by the Washington State University Press. Today, Mr. 
Biggs is the director of the Congressional Fellowship Program of the 
American Political Science Association [APSA]. With that, let me turn 
the podium over to Mr. Biggs.
    Mr. BIGGS. Thank you, Walter. All of us on the podium would like to 
thank the Carl Albert Center, the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and 
particularly the Congressional Research Service [CRS] for having 
sponsored this special day. I would like to extend a special thanks to 
the Congressional Research Service. For some 50 years, the CRS has 
helped prepare the journalists, political scientists, RWJ [Robert Wood 
Johnson] health policy fellows, a Native American Hatfield fellow, 
domestic and foreign policy specialists from the public service, and 
international congressional fellows for their 10-month congressional 
staff assignments on the Hill. This year's 40 APSA congressional fellows 
are part of the audience today. In fact, I believe that every Member of 
Congress in the audience today hosted a fellow during their 
congressional tenure.
    Memories are short, and the two commentators on our panel did great 
honor to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives during 
their years in Congress. They deserve more than a cursory introduction. 
My thanks to Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America and National 
Journal's The Almanac of American Politics for their admirable 
biographies of the Members of Congress. On my left is former Congressman 
Bill Frenzel. Before arriving in Washington, DC, he was an executive in 
his family's warehousing business, and served four terms in the 
Minnesota State legislature. His moderate brand of Republicanism 
appealed to his Third Congressional District constituents in 1970, and 
they never tired of it. Over two decades, his Twin City supporters 
always returned him to office with more than 60 percent of the vote. 
While he would come to be regarded by his colleagues as one of the 
intellectual guardians of GOP economic orthodoxy, he maintained his 
moderate views on many social and foreign policy issues. Over the course 
of his congressional career, Bill Frenzel became a senior member of the 
Minnesota delegation and emerged as one of the hardest working and most 
influential Republicans in the House.
    Described by National Journal as ``loud and brainy, partisan and 
thoughtful,'' he put his stamp on every debate in which he participated. 
With intellectual ability, oratorical skills and the work habits of a 
true legislator, Bill Frenzel left his mark in both policy and 
institutional arenas. As the ranking member of the House Administration 
Committee, he introduced a bill to create the Federal Election 
Commission in 1974. His interest in congressional ethics led to his 
participation in writing an ethics code in 1977. On the Ways and Means 
Committee, he became the Republicans' leading voice on trade matters 
and, along with Tom Foley, was an outspoken advocate of free trade.
    But if he fared well as a Member of Congress, his party did not. 
Frustrations began to emerge. He must frequently have recalled 19th 
century Republican Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed, who was once asked by a 
Democratic Member, ``What is the function of the minority?'' ``The 
function of the minority, sir,'' the Speaker replied, ``is to make a 
quorum and to draw its pay.'' Bill Frenzel's frustration with what would 
become the 40-year Democratic majority in the House, from 1954 to 1994, 
rose to the surface in early 1989 when he threw his political weight 
behind Representative Newt Gingrich's effort to vault himself into the 
Republican leadership. Bill Frenzel nominated Mr. Gingrich to be GOP 
whip. As a respected senior member of both the Budget and Ways and Means 
Committees, Frenzel was just the kind of legislatively-oriented, older 
generation Republican who would have seemed a natural adversary of Mr. 
Gingrich's confrontational, partisan style. But support from Members 
such as Mr. Frenzel went a long way toward explaining Mr. Gingrich's 
upset victory. Bill Frenzel was a formidable legislator and advocate 
during his congressional career in the minority.
    He retired in 1991 after 20 years of service. One can only imagine 
what the talents of this moderate Republican could have achieved in the 
majority. Bill Frenzel is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution 
and, along with Messrs. Fazio and Foley, serves on the American 
Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship Programs Advisory 
Committee. I guess that's my third plug.
    Former Congressman Vic Fazio is on my right. As was the case with 
Speaker Foley and our Republican commentator, Mr. Frenzel, Vic Fazio is 
one of that unfortunately diminishing breed, an institutionalist in the 
U.S. House of Representatives. During two decades representing 
California's Third Congressional District in the House, he carried an 
enormous amount of water for his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. 
He took on responsibility for what most observers would characterize as 
an insider's portfolio. He served in what one might regard as the 
trenches of House politics. He did so without losing sight of how these 
tasks also served to improve the operation of the U.S. House of 
Representatives as the great deliberative body of our Nation. As one of 
the so-called ``college of cardinals,'' the 13 Appropriations 
subcommittee chairs, Mr. Fazio chaired the Legislative Branch 
Subcommittee responsible for such unpleasant housekeeping chores as 
defending congressional pay raises and congressional office budgets. His 
willingness to bear those burdens warranted the respect and gratitude of 
Members from across the ideological spectrum who were glad to have 
someone else take the heat for what they wanted.
    During an era of heightened public antipathy toward the Congress, a 
phenomenon which seems ever with us, Mr. Fazio added to his burdens when 
he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, served as 
the vice chair, and then chaired the Democratic Caucus. He accepted a 
position on the House Ethics Committee during the period it reviewed the 
case of Speaker Wright. In 1989, he co-chaired an ethics task force 
under Speaker Foley which, among other reforms, eliminated speaking 
honoraria for the Members of Congress. A strong, unapologetic partisan, 
these were roles which unquestionably added burdens at home in what was 
becoming a marginally Republican district.
    To the end of his time in the House, Mr. Fazio was outspoken against 
those Members whose electoral instincts were to vilify the House in 
order to gain political advantage, particularly incumbents who ran for 
reelection as purported ``outsiders,'' criticizing the very body in 
which they served. At the same time, he was sensitive to the public 
perceptions of Congress and its possible excesses. During the 101st 
Congress, for example, he pushed for substantial reforms of the 
congressional franking privilege despite the criticism of his 
colleagues. He was a politician in the very best sense of the word. For 
Vic Fazio, there is life after Congress. He is currently a partner at 
Clark and Weinstock. And, according to his wife Judy, he is overly 
involved in non-profit and charitable activities.
    And now to the subject of this panel: Thomas Stephen Foley. Thomas 
Foley would never have described himself as the predominant Washington, 
DC, ``type A'' personality. He rose to the top of the leadership ladder 
without displaying the type of vaunted ambition usually associated with 
such success. Even his first candidacy to represent the voters of 
eastern Washington's Fifth Congressional District in Congress was 
reluctantly undertaken at the urging of others. In 1974, he chaired the 
Democratic Study Group, which served as the strategy and research arm of 
liberal and moderate Democrats. The next year, he became Agriculture 
Committee chair under unusual circumstances. His predecessor, the 
elderly and conservative W.R. Poage of Texas, was targeted for removal 
by the huge bloc of reform-minded Watergate-baby Democrats. Ever the 
institutionalist, Foley backed Poage. But when Poage was unseated 
anyway, the Democratic Caucus turned to Foley and promoted him chairman 
of the committee.
    Foley continued to rise within Democratic ranks. After the 1980 
election, the position of Democratic whip opened up. And when Mr. 
Rostenkowski (D-IL), chief deputy whip and first-in-line, decided to 
take over the Ways and Means Committee chair, Speaker Tip O'Neill and 
Majority Leader Jim Wright, both looking for someone with parliamentary 
skills, chose Foley as the party's whip. When Speaker O'Neill announced 
his plan to retire at the end of the 99th Congress, there was no 
guarantee Foley would ascend to the majority leader's spot. A number of 
Members wanted a more partisan figure. In the end, no challenger to 
Foley emerged and the same dynamic was there in 1989 when Foley rose 
without opposition to the speakership.
    It sounds like a happily-ever-after story. It wasn't. Not only was 
Foley the first Speaker from west of the Rocky Mountains, he was a rare 
Speaker who did not represent a safe seat in his marginally Republican 
district. The higher his Democratic profile became, the greater his 
vulnerability. Ultimately, he was the first Speaker defeated for 
reelection since 1862. Maybe it could have been avoided. But he felt 
putting your career on the line, and at risk on principled stands, was a 
test of doing the job right. And he did so in favor of gun control and 
in opposition to what he viewed as an unconstitutional Washington State 
term limits referendum. Later, the Supreme Court after the 1994 
elections confirmed his view. Foley had built his career and reputation 
in part on being a facilitator and conciliator with the ability to 
appreciate opinions on the other side of the aisle, and in part on 
congressional reform initiatives.
    As Speaker, Foley inherited a Democratic Caucus which had gotten too 
used to big majorities and now struggled to find the discipline to 
marshal tough votes. In the seventies, he had played a key role in the 
reforms which opened up the Congress to the press and the public, and 
challenged the power of committee chairs by making their appointment 
subject to a secret ballot in the caucus. As Speaker, his reform 
instinct was called forth to counter what emerged as decades-old 
institutional abuses, such as the House bank. The abolition of the bank 
led to the appointment of a House administrator, the elimination of long 
cherished perks, and the appointment of a bipartisan panel to look at 
more sweeping reforms. Foley initiated a program under the direction of 
Representative Martin Frost to provide congressional assistance to the 
emerging eastern European democracies. Most of these changes remain to 
this day.
    His long-admired bipartisan instinct was newly challenged under the 
unified government of President Clinton. Foley undertook to pass a 
legislative agenda, including a budget proposal that failed to receive a 
single Republican vote, and comprehensive health care reform which 
ultimately failed to make it to the floor of the House. These brief 
illustrations highlight the value and importance of the qualities that 
Foley brought to the House for three decades. He placed a premium on 
governance following an election, whether the President be Democratic or 
Republican. He stressed a legislative search for solutions, rather than 
the perpetuation of the campaign. He urged a willingness to accept 
bipartisan compromise. He recognized the international role of the 
Speaker. These were qualities which remain essential to the institution 
of the Congress and remain part of his legacy to the speakership of the 
    Speaker FOLEY. Thank you, Jeff. I'd like to begin by repeating what 
others have said about the Congressional Research Service, the Carl 
Albert Center, and the McCormick Tribune Foundation for their support of 
this wonderful day for me, and for many others. The day provides a 
chance to see so many friends and associates of past years, and a chance 
to reminisce over three or four decades of one's past life. It is a 
special pleasure for me today to be with Jim and Betty Wright, my 
predecessor in the Office of the Speaker. And later with Newt Gingrich, 
my successor. The day prompts many pleasant memories of Carl Albert and 
Tip O'Neill. I am also delighted to be here with Bob Michel, who was the 
Republican leader all the time that I was Speaker and a man for whom I 
have unbounded admiration as a model of congressional and public 
service. And as Speaker Hastert said today, we all are saddened by your 
wife's recent death.
    Looking back at the time that I first came to Congress, I recall a 
story I've told before. I hope those who have heard it may forgive me. I 
joined the Congress in 1964 as a part of the 89th Congress. It was a 
young and rather large Democratic majority. In those days and today, the 
parties meet in December to organize their work and to offer newly-
elected Members a chance to familiarize themselves with their 
responsibilities. Speaker John McCormack addressed us newly-elected 
Members at that 1964 December meeting. He said that the leadership 
probably would have to make a judgment 2 years later about whether we 
had been elected seriously by our constituents or by accident. Members 
are sometimes elected by accident, he said, and we won't really know 
which you are until you are reelected, if you are. With that warm 
greeting, we proceeded into the orientation program.
    One of the speakers was Michael Kirwan from the State of Ohio, who 
was a powerful member of the Committee on Appropriations. In fact, he 
was ``Mr. Public Works.'' You couldn't get a footbridge built in the 
United States without Mike's approval. He leaned forward to tell us that 
he wanted to warn us about the single greatest danger that could occur 
to a new Member of Congress entering his or her congressional service. 
We leaned forward to hear what this was--an ethical problem or whatever. 
He said that the danger was thinking for yourselves! Avoid that, he 
said, at all costs. Avoid thinking for yourselves. You must follow the 
subcommittee chairman, follow the committee chairman. Support the 
chairman of the Democratic Caucus. Follow the majority whip. Support the 
majority leader. And especially, above all, support, defend and follow 
the Speaker.
    I remember being quite outraged. I had gotten elected as a new 
Member of Congress, I thought, to make some contribution to my time in 
public life and perhaps even beyond. And the idea that I should 
subcontract my judgment to the political leadership of the party was 
really offensive. And Kirwan went on to say that in his experience, more 
people had gotten into trouble in the Congress of the United States by 
thinking for themselves than by stealing money. That unbelievably 
shocking statement made me truly angry. Later on, it was my opportunity 
to become a subcommittee chairman, a committee chairman, the chairman of 
the Democratic Caucus, the Democratic whip, the majority leader under 
Jim Wright, and, finally, taking the oath of office as Speaker of the 
House of Representatives. And I recall that as I was taking the oath, 
the wise words of Mr. Kirwan came back across a generation of time. How 
right he was!
    But fortunately, then and now, Members do think for themselves. And 
they not only think for themselves on the Republican and the Democratic 
sides of the aisle, they think for themselves inside each party. I had 
an opportunity to talk a little bit with Speaker Hastert today at lunch. 
We both recognize that one of the problems of the speakership is to deal 
with very strong and powerful voices within one's own party. I came to 
the speakership of the House as a former committee chairman, but not the 
most senior of them. Dan Rostenkowski, John Dingell, Jack Brooks and 
others had been powerful and wonderfully effective legislators and 
committee chairmen. They had extensive knowledge and experience in their 
fields. This is true not only with the committee chairmen, but with 
subcommittee chairmen, who have proliferated dramatically over the 
years. I think we had something like 160 Democrats in the House of 
Representatives who were subcommittee chairmen. Sometimes there were 
conflicting jurisdictions between Appropriations subcommittee chairmen 
and authorizing committee chairmen or subcommittee chairmen. There is a 
problem, sometimes, of managing strong, effective, and powerful 
personalities. That's one of the jobs that I didn't really anticipate 
when I became Speaker--how much time is required managing jurisdictional 
disputes and trying to mediate between conflicts of approach. It's the 
sort of kitchen work, as my former mentor Senator Warren Magnuson spoke 
of, in terms of the day-to-day work of a Speaker--conciliating, 
organizing, trying to move the tasks of the Congress forward.
    As Speaker Hastert said, I had a particular notion that it was the 
institutional responsibility of the Speaker, a special obligation, to be 
absolutely, as far as humanly possible, fair in the judgments made from 
the chair. The British model, the Westminster model as it's called, 
takes the Speaker out of all party politics. My first opportunity to 
meet a British Speaker after I became Speaker was Bernard Wetherow, who 
moved from the House of Lords to become the Speaker of the British House 
of Commons. He resigned even from social clubs that were overly 
associated with the Conservative Party, so that his absolute 
impartiality would never be questioned. By the way, Speaker Wetherow 
asked me what number Speaker I was. I said, ``Mr. Speaker, I'm the 
49th.'' He said that he was the 322d. I said, ``Sir, that's what we call 
in the United States a put-down. I'm the 49th, you're the 322d, or 
whatever.'' He said, ``Well, we started in 1277 or in 1388, depending on 
how you count the speakerships in the House of Commons in the U.K.'' And 
he said, ``And 10 of us were beheaded, 2 on the same day when the king 
was in a particularly unhappy mood.'' We don't have that problem here, 
at least physical beheading. We sometimes have political beheading. I 
know something about political beheading.
    But the role of the U.S. Speaker is a combination, as Speaker 
Hastert said, of the party leader and the impartial British-type 
judicial Speaker. It's not an easy task. You are pushed by your own 
party to move legislation forward and you want to do it. You face the 
problem that sometimes a motion to recommit with instructions if 
proposed in a certain way may create great problems. There's a tendency, 
sometimes, to perhaps cut a little too close on what others feel is the 
absolute right of the minority. Those are tough decisions. I had, 
however, the great benefit of having an impartial Parliamentarian, who 
Speaker Hastert also talked about. The two offices that are voted on 
that are usually without any controversy are the Parliamentarian and the 
Chaplain. It is important that the rulings of the chair in critical 
times can be depended upon by both parties.
    We had a few occasions when there was an objection to the ruling of 
the chair, and someone called for a vote on that decision. I don't think 
any time that happened that Bob Michel didn't support the chair. He 
felt, I think, that the chair's ruling had been correct and that it 
should not be the subject of controversy in the House. On the other 
hand, the price for that support was that, as Speaker, I had to ensure 
that the rulings are fair so that they can elicit bipartisan support. In 
many legislatures, appealing the ruling of the chair is a constant event 
and takes place routinely. I think in 50 years, we may have had a dozen 
or so formal challenges to the ruling of the chair.
    During the time I was Speaker, I served with President George Bush 
41, as we now say. President Bush was President for 3 years of my 
speakership and President Clinton for 2. It was interesting to me that 
there is a difference in whether you have divided or united government 
between the congressional leadership and the Presidential leadership. We 
have had, for most of the period after World War II, divided political 
responsibility--generally Republican Presidents with Democratic 
majorities in the Congress and those have a particular dynamic. There is 
a tendency, frankly, for relations between the Congress and the 
Presidency to be as good, and in some cases even better, with divided 
government. For some, that might come as a surprise. But the fact is 
that the need to make the system of government work leads to a kind of 
elaborate, almost diplomatic, sensitivity between the White House and 
the Congress to the reactions of the other.
    In contrast, if there is united government with the White House and 
Congress under control of one party, Congress expects that the new, 
let's say, Democratic President is going to solve all the problems that 
they want to have addressed and they now think it's possible to go 
forward with a very energetic and effective legislative program. The 
congressional majority Members expect all those they appointed in their 
districts to be happy and satisfied with them. At the same time, the 
President feels that his program should be taken up without much 
question and enthusiastically passed by his congressional colleagues. 
The disappointments that are possible on both sides of this united 
government are great.
    During the period of divided government, I was blamed, along with 
then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, for having talked President 
George H.W. Bush 41 into agreeing to some tax increases. Some attribute 
his defeat in 1992 to his having allegedly broken his ``no new taxes'' 
promise. As I look back on that period, one of the things that I admired 
most about President Bush was his willingness to confront internal 
problems in the Republican Party by taking that decision. It was a 
decision taken along with spending restrictions on the budget. But an 
agreement on spending cuts and new taxes was obviously going to be a 
problem for President Bush and it turned out to be.
    I used to say, somewhat jokingly, that there are two sins in 
politics--one is the obvious sin of not keeping your campaign promises. 
But sometimes I think that's the more venal sin. The sometimes more 
mortal sin is keeping your campaign promises. If they turn out to be 
wrong for the country, wrong for the future of the Nation, then I think 
whether we're in Congress or the White House, we have to reconsider 
that. I had great respect for President Bush's willingness to take that 
    When President Clinton came to office, he was the first Democratic 
President in 12 years. With George Mitchell in the Senate and me in the 
House, there were many Democrats who wanted to see the new President 
succeed and wanted to support his major legislative agenda. Looking back 
on it, I think that perhaps we could have been more supportive of the 
administration by, once in awhile, being a bit more candid with the 
President. I think the new administration came in with great enthusiasm, 
particularly on health care. The White House overstressed the 
institutional support of the House. We had to decide, for example, 
whether to put the President's health care reform bill through the 
established committees of Congress, such as Ways and Means and Commerce, 
or push the legislation through a task force. The task force idea I 
rejected. I thought the legislation should go through the ordinary 
committee structure. But that required multiple committee referrals.
    Eventually, the Congressional Budget Office was overwhelmed by the 
demands of individual Members to examine the cost of their amendments. 
The system slowed down and was greeted on the Republican side with a 
decision to straight-out oppose, rather than just try to modify, the 
health care bill. We all know the consequence of that--the bill did not 
proceed through the end of that Congress. I think this was a 
contributing factor to the country's disillusionment with the Democratic 
leadership and the 1994 defeat of the majority in Congress. In 
retrospect, I think we would have been wiser, as Dan Rostenkowski 
suggested today, with a more incremental approach such as the Kennedy-
Kassebaum bill, a step-by-step process, as opposed to trying to achieve 
everything overnight in the way of health care reform. We might have 
been more effective and successful.
    Tony Coelho gave me good advice one time after he left Congress. He 
said, ``Don't look back and don't regret.'' I think that's a good rule. 
You may have made mistakes. There may have been opportunities you didn't 
fulfill, but you did what you could while you were there.
    In the session on Jim Wright, the question arises as to whether it's 
better to be more assertive or more cautious. If I have a regret, it's 
probably been on two or three occasions that I wasn't as assertive as I 
think now perhaps I should have been. But one of the things that I hoped 
we would see--and I'm disappointed we do not see today--is a 
continuation of the kind of relationship between the majority and the 
minority that existed when I was Speaker and Bob Michel was the 
Republican leader. We met almost every day and the staff certainly met 
every day. We went back and forth to the other's offices. I always felt 
that Bob was an extremely effective Republican leader. It was necessary 
to know exactly where we wanted to go and to see if we could compromise 
or find an approach that would lead to some accommodation of the issue, 
rather than a confrontation.
    Our efforts in those times were sometimes rewarded with success, 
such as was the case with most of our party members in different camps 
on the 1991 Gulf war. Despite those differences, we had a debate which I 
still think was one of the most thoughtful and impressive that I can 
recall in the Congress. There was a full discussion of whether the 
United States should authorize war and give the President authority to 
enter the war. It's interesting to me that President Bush 41 wanted this 
vote to come after the election so it would not be politicized. The vote 
in the present case came before the election. In any event, I'll never 
forget Bob Michel coming up to the Speaker's chair, where I was sitting, 
wearing that combat infantryman's badge, which he won so well in World 
War II. Here was a big tough guy with tears in his eyes. He said, ``This 
is the hardest vote I think I've ever had to cast because I'm putting 
young men and women at risk and I know it. But I think it's the right 
thing to do.'' He and I voted differently on the bill, but it was a 
sense of, I think, the mutual respect that Republicans and Democrats 
throughout the House had with the differing opinions of their colleagues 
on an issue of enormous importance to the country.
    I regret that in recent years there's been a tension between 
persons, as well as between parties and policies. There was even a 
civility conference a few years ago at Hershey, Pennsylvania, where 
Members of both parties came with their families to try and reconcile 
those harsh personal relationships in the House and try to get a sense 
of comity and friendship and a common effort.
    The House of Representatives is the voice of the American people, 
the Senate the voice of the States. That's the way we see it in the 
House. Former Representative Richard Bolling was once accused of making 
a derogatory comment about the House, saying it was made up of 
``provincials.'' He defended his remark by saying that that is what the 
House was supposed to be. It is intended to be the place where people 
represent their districts, represent the differences in our country. 
House Members represent the communities in which they grew up and where 
they have their primary residence in life. I think Speaker Hastert 
reflected that again today when he spoke of returning to his district on 
weekends and his desire to keep always in front of him the origin of his 
service in the Congress and his speakership.
    Former Speaker John McCormack once said another thing that I'll 
never forget. He said if the day comes when you look up at the Capitol 
as you come to work in summer, in fall, in rain or in snow, and you are 
not individually thrilled and heartened by the enormous honor of 
representing 500,000 or 600,000 people as constituents, and if you don't 
think that that is something that you should be deeply grateful for--he 
said quit, just quit. Because if you don't have that sense of thrill, 
that sense of great honor and opportunity, he said you've stayed too 
long. I think that's good advice, and I think that those who have had a 
chance to serve here will look back on that service, regardless of their 
party, with a sense of first great obligation and thanks to their 
    For over 30 years, my constituents sent me to Washington and allowed 
me to represent them as best I could. Those of us who have held the 
Office of Speaker have had a second honor bestowed on us. Speakers have 
that special sense that they have been chosen by their fellow Members--
all of them representatives and delegates of a great national 
constituency. To be elected Speaker is even a greater honor in many 
respects than being elected to represent a constituency. And whether we 
have done the job well or less well, whether we have achieved all that 
we might or not--and none of us achieves everything we wish--I think we 
can look back on being Speaker as one of the great opportunities and one 
of the great honors of our lives. And I am happy today, regardless of 
differences between individuals and parties and personalities, to join 
with others who have had that experience. I thank you all for taking 
part in this conference. Thank you.
    Mr. FRENZEL. Thanks, Tom Foley. Thanks, Library of Congress. Thanks 
to all of you for being here. And thanks to whomever was rash enough to 
invite me.
    Being asked to comment on the Foley speakership creates a real 
temptation to deliver a eulogy while a body is still warm. And I'm going 
to have to succumb to it, because it was my great privilege to serve all 
my time in Congress concurrently with Speaker Foley and have had many 
opportunities to interact with him.
    I remember the first time I really met him was in the early 
seventies on a trip to Japan. Tom was then a very ancient senior Member 
of four or five terms, and I was just a rookie from the minority. He 
showed me around and I remember being very impressed with his reception 
by the Japanese and with his knowledge of that country and its political 
system. And, of course, more than 20 years later, it was my pleasure to 
dine in his house at our Embassy in Japan where he was representing all 
of us with distinction as our Ambassador in Tokyo.
    Of course, distinction has followed Tom wherever he has gone. Those 
of us who served in the House are wont to say that he really gave 
politics a bad name. He was forever thinking selfish thoughts about 
integrity and decency and service and trustworthiness and about doing a 
good job for the constituents. That really was Tom's hallmark.
    I have served with only four Speakers, all of them Democrats, and 
all of whom I consider friends. And so I'm not really anxious to get 
into comparisons. But one of the things that I enjoyed about Tom and his 
leadership--not just as Speaker, but as majority leader, as a committee 
chairman--almost certainly from the time I came to Congress, was that he 
could be a real Democrat, a ``big D'' Democrat, but still respect and be 
respected by all of the Members of Congress, be they Republicans or 
    I don't know if that arose from the fact that Tom came from a fairly 
competitive congressional district where you had to make friends with 
everybody. Perhaps it did, or perhaps it simply originates from the fact 
that he is that kind of a person, respectful and respected.
    In watching him, I learned that you could be a party loyalist, but 
still remember that you had representational responsibilities to the 
whole country, to all the people within your district. And remember, 
too, that you have to be fair to every Member of the House, especially 
when you're the boss. As he spoke of trying to work compromises with my 
great hero Bob Michel in the House, with whom I was also favored to 
serve, I thought that with great men like that, compromise does not 
represent weakness. On the contrary, it represents the strength of our 
system. That made me terribly proud to be a part of the system.
    The House is a very tough political environment. Compared to the 
other body, it is like the difference between professional football and 
chess. The majority has an important duty to move a program. Often, it 
is moved over the dead bodies of the minority, or by stretching the 
rules a bit. But that's not an easy chore, because the majority has to 
put its troops together.
    And I can imagine that when Tom got ahold of the gavel and got up 
there on the Speaker's podium, he was praying that every one of his 
caucus would follow the admonitions of Chairman Kirwan and follow the 
Speaker's wishes. But sometimes they didn't. And that's one of the 
reasons that it is rash to compare speakerships. The House is different 
at all times. It has different Members. It has different issues. It has 
different cross-currents. There are different coalitions. Everything is 
different. And Speakers are different, too. And while their problems are 
similar, they are by no means the same.
    Tom presided over the House in what we now recognize was a period of 
the decline of the Rooseveltian coalition, which was beginning to come 
apart. It apparently had good, strong majorities. But, on the other 
hand, after 62 years of ascendancy with two small imperfections, most of 
its Democratic Members believed that they were born to rule and that 
their rule was ordained by the Almighty.
    That was a nice feeling, except for Tom. It gave him an army of all 
generals and no foot soldiers. And it was not a really easy matter to 
put all of those people together in a single place for any bill. He also 
ruled at a time when the committees were manned by very senior ``old 
bulls'' in the party. As everyone knows, when they are at full strength, 
the Speaker is never quite at full strength.
    Jeff touted him as a conciliator, a facilitator, a mediator, and so 
do I. He was, for me, just a remarkable affirmation of what our system 
should be. As a member of the minority, I trusted and respected Tom 
    Now remember, I didn't vote with Tom Foley a lot. I thought he was 
kind of squirrelly in his voting habits. But he was doing the best he 
could. You remember Dennis Hastert gave us his admonition, which is 
people expect you to keep your word. For me, you could put Tom's word in 
the bank. And that's pretty hard to equal. That's about as good as you 
can do in Washington in my judgment.
    I saw Leon Panetta out in the audience and I was just remembering 
that there was a time when Leon and I went to see Tom about a matter 
that had to do with the Budget Committee. Leon was then chairman and I 
was a flunky. Leon said, ``Mr. Speaker, can you help us with this 
problem?'' And the Speaker said, ``Of course. I think you're right on 
this.'' The Speaker made one phone call and resolved our problem 
    The following year we were back with the same problem. I said, ``Mr. 
Speaker, can you help us with this problem?'' And the Speaker said, 
``No, I can't do that for you.'' Since I was the minority person, I had 
to challenge the statement. I said, ``Why not, Mr. Speaker? You did it 
last year.'' And he said, ``Ah, but I was new in the job and then I did 
not know the limitations of my power.''
    So if you think it is an easy job to be Speaker, forget it. But 
also, if you think it's going to be easy for any future Speakers to live 
up to the reputation and achievements of Tom Foley, abolish those 
thoughts as well. As far as I'm concerned, he was the greatest.
    Mr. FAZIO. Jeff, thank you and the Library of Congress for including 
me in this discussion of the speakership. I think it is the most 
important, most difficult, most under-appreciated and least-understood 
leadership position in American Government, second only to the 
President. There's no question that I tend to agree with a lot of what 
Bill Frenzel has said. I'd like to concentrate on the question of 
Foley's marginal seat and the impact it had. I think he's the last--not 
just one of the few as Jeff said--but the last Speaker who will come 
from a district that was evenly balanced and could go either way in any 
    Tom Foley was elected to the House in the midsixties during a 
Democratic ascendancy. He kept the district with some tight races for 30 
years, largely because of the force of his own personality and his 
effective representation of the wheatgrowers and all the other elements 
of that district. He always put the needs of his constituents first. 
That was his first and most compelling assignment and he always carried 
it out well. But the speakership had evolved to a multifaceted, 24-7 
job. It became not just the internal collaborative leadership that the 
Speakers are required to provide, but also the ``outside job,'' the 
fundraising, the Sunday talk shows, the speeches in faraway places--not 
just to help your colleagues with their fundraising and their reelection 
campaigns, but as a way of projecting the party on issue after issue and 
raising money for the Congressional Campaign Committees. It means that 
inevitably the district fades to some degree. And it's not just the fact 
that you can't be there as much as you may have been, but it's also the 
reality that you have to take more partisan positions than they are used 
to hearing you express at home.
    So inevitably, I think, Tom Foley's career in the eastern district 
of Washington State ended when his speakership did because not only was 
the Democratic Party in eastern Washington State weakening, but the 
traditional Democratic Party that Bill Frenzel referred to as their 
Rooseveltian coalition was disintegrating as well. The style of 
leadership that Foley brought to the speakership was also changing. No 
question it influenced how he ran the House. Tom Foley was like Tip--a 
man of the House that he grew up in. That was why Speaker Foley was so 
much a regular order kind of guy.
    I was thinking earlier today about the health care legislation, 
still referred to as the Clinton health care plan. Other names have been 
attached over the years, but the bottom line is this Speaker felt 
regular order needed to prevail in order to bring a health bill to the 
floor that could pass. I am sure Danny Rostenkowski remembers meeting 
after meeting in the Speaker's office when we tried to put together the 
votes, either in the Commerce Committee or the Ways and Means Committee, 
to begin the process. We didn't have those votes and could not move the 
legislation. I realize now what Newt Gingrich would have done, and we 
did it regularly in the next speakership--put a task force together. 
Denny Hastert earlier referred to them as, he said, a way of undermining 
the committee system. But Speaker Gingrich would not have hesitated 
about moving a bill of that importance to his party and his President 
through by irregular order. He would have found another way to do it and 
it somehow would have gotten to the floor and probably passed by a 
couple of votes, as so often has been the case since 1995.
    I respect Tom Foley's approach. He knew his caucus was not as 
unified as it needed to be and most of all he respected the committee 
system that had served the House so well. He was a product of that 
tradition. It was also regular order for Speaker Foley when it came to 
supporting the Clinton administration. Having observed the conflicts 
between the O'Neill speakership and the Carter Presidency, Tom Foley 
took a different, more supporting approach. You remember it was Hamilton 
Jordan, Carter's Chief of Staff, who was frequently called ``Hannibal 
Jerkin.'' There was real antipathy there. Most Democrats saw, in 
retrospect, that the discord didn't necessarily aid the Carter 
administration in their difficult reelection quest.
    Speaker Foley, as he's already indicated, did all he could possibly 
do to help implement President Clinton's agenda. All those who were 
members of his last caucus look back with pride on that budget vote in 
1993 which brought us, Democrats believe, a balanced budget and a decade 
of prosperity. It also probably contributed significantly to the decline 
and ultimate defeat of our majority. I remember later when we took the 
crime bill to the floor, we had a very tough choice to make. Do we move 
the assault weapons ban as a separate, stand-alone piece of legislation, 
or do we make it part of the omnibus crime bill, however difficult that 
would make it for many moderate and conservative Democrats with strong 
NRA constituencies to vote for it? Parenthetically, we even had some on 
the left voting against the crime bill rule because they didn't support 
any provisions relating to the death penalty. It was a very good example 
of how fragmented and diverse our Democratic Caucus had become, and how 
difficult it was to bring it all together. We chose to, as I think my 
friend Leon Panetta said, give the President a victory and pass that 
bill with the assault weapon ban in it. But we also had tremendous 
negative fallout for many of our Members just 1 year later.
    Speaker Foley personally paid the price for the bill in his own 
race. He lost the NRA's support for the first time in his career. 
There's no question that Tom Foley liked to work with his fellow 
committee chairs. He was one of them. He came through the Agriculture 
Committee to be its chair, then moved into the elected leadership and 
ultimately the speakership. He respected the diversity within the 
bipartisan committee process. Remember, it was an era when you put out 
bills with as broad a bipartisan majority as you could get. When 
possible, you worked with the Republicans during those years in the 
majority, in part because it gave us more impetus, more momentum when we 
got to the floor. After all, we weren't always sure where all those 
elements of that Democratic coalition were going to be at vote time. 
Fragmentation had set in within our caucus, and the committee structure 
normally gave the Democratic leadership the broader support it needed to 
pursue its agenda on the floor.
    Tom Foley's time in the leadership was already an era when we were 
closely divided. But it was also the era when the one-party South, the 
Democratic majority in the South, had totally disintegrated. It was also 
a period where the diversity that had become one of the keys to changing 
our caucus in the eighties and into the nineties, worked against us. We 
didn't all know or empathize with each other. We didn't share common 
experiences. And that certainly was true of the House in general as well 
as the Democratic Caucus.
    I remember hearing stories about Bob Michel and Danny Rostenkowski 
driving to and from Illinois together through many of their years in 
Washington. That sort of friendship, that sort of personal relationship 
above and beyond party, had almost vanished during Tom Foley's 
speakership. What existed was a more divided House with little 
community. It's a trend that has continued to this day. Families live in 
their districts, not in Washington. Two- and three-day weeks are common 
with jet travel back and forth to the district. There is pressure on the 
leadership from the Members to come in late and go out early. These 
circumstances contributed to an incredible amount of disarray, not just 
in one party, but in the House in general.
    On top of that, we suffered greatly from the internal troubles 
brought about by all of the so-called ``scandals'' that the House came 
under scrutiny for--the bank, the post office, and so on. We had 
elements of our caucus, generally older Members and those from safe 
seats, who felt that if we would just hold tight, these problems were 
transitory and they would all blow away. Other elements, people younger 
and more marginal in their seats, were under such pressure in their 
districts that they couldn't go home for a weekend without coming back 
fully inflamed about what these problems that they didn't really know 
much about, or hadn't participated in, were doing to their reelection 
chances. So Tom Foley had a very tough time reconciling the generational 
shift that was going on within his caucus--the large influx of people in 
1974, plus the Members who carried over for 30 and 40 years, and a lot 
of people who had been elected in the late eighties and into the 
nineties whose tenure was quite tenuous.
    And so I think Tom Foley epitomized modern collaborative leadership 
in this very difficult environment. He worked very hard at bringing 
people together, brokering compromises, working with State delegations 
and the exploding number of informal caucuses, dealing with committee 
assignments, and assigning legislation to one or more committees. These 
kinds of one-on-one, small group gatherings are leadership requirements 
that are really the hallmark of the speakership. It wasn't just that 
other strength he has of being a great stentorian speaker and floor 
leader. It was also the personal touch. The need to be putting your arm 
around somebody, bringing together a compromise that might otherwise 
have been lost.
    There's no question when you ask Members to look back on their years 
in the Foley House, they will relate to his ability to go into the well 
and extemporaneously make remarks that actually moved votes, and, I 
believe, probably on both sides of the aisle. He was also great in our 
districts. For those of us who had him come by and speak to our 
contributors and our supporters, it was always a positive experience. He 
has wonderful rhetorical skills. I think back on all those stories that 
I came to know almost so well that I could repeat them myself--the words 
on Jefferson's tomb were the basis for one of my favorites. And Mike 
Kirwan--a far more familiar figure with the American public today 
because of Tom Foley's stories that you heard a version of earlier. This 
was a man who could communicate in every sense of that term. He was 
someone whom I was proud to serve with, and I look back on that time 
very fondly. Thank you.
    Mr. BIGGS. We still have some time and would welcome questions.
    Question. How important is it for Congress to be more assertive in 
foreign and defense policy? That concern has come up in a couple of 
different speakerships, and I think in today's climate it is an 
appropriate question.
    Speaker FOLEY. I think it's obviously important for the House and 
the Speaker to have their voices heard on foreign policy. The President, 
by some constitutional opinion, inherited the powers of George III to 
make foreign policy and to command the military services as commander in 
chief. But the power of the purse, the power to implement foreign 
policy, which is essential today in any foreign policy undertaking, 
requires the House and the Senate to be involved. I think the Speaker 
must be involved in that. We talked earlier here today about Jim Wright 
and the work that was done with the Reagan administration. Looking back, 
for example, on Tip O'Neill's service--I was a whip when Tip was 
Speaker--I never saw a case where President Reagan called and asked Tip 
O'Neill to do something that Reagan thought was in the interest of the 
country's foreign policy that Tip didn't agree to do it. But he would 
also tell the President what he thought about various foreign policy 
issues. He told him privately and told him candidly. But, on the other 
hand, Tip felt very strongly that the Speaker should be supportive of 
the President on those issues where he could conscientiously support him 
in the interest of the foreign policy of the country.
    I want to take the opportunity again to express my regret at the 
sort of permanent campaign we have under way now. It's a function of 
both congressional and Presidential politics that the campaign never 
really ends. Fundraising goes on constantly, and preparing for the next 
election almost begins the day after the returns come in from the last 
one. That has consequences for the ability of the House or the 
government to work together after an election to move the country's 
agenda and purposes forward. It can be a very critical problem, 
obviously, in foreign policy.
    So, how do we get over the political consequences of the permanent 
campaign and restore a sense of comity and trust that both branches are 
trying to move the country's agenda forward? As a Democratic Speaker, I 
also wanted to see a Republican President succeed in every way when I 
could conceive it as being in the interest of the country. Anyone who 
doesn't want a President to succeed, who wants a total failure, is, as 
they say, no friend of the republic.
    I should also say that one of the things I felt when I was in office 
was that we needed to have opportunities for Democrats and Republicans 
to find ways to talk together outside the formal debates of the House. 
There was a case that occurred when I was Speaker in the 102d Congress 
when we had one of those briefings for new Members. I was telling the 
new Democratic Members that I thought they should take an opportunity--I 
didn't think the press was present--to miss a vote. Not a serious vote, 
not one that would affect their reelection, obviously, or affect public 
policy, just miss some kind of ordinary, routine vote so they could 
never, ever think about having a 100 percent voting record. I mentioned 
this because we had a couple of Members who had 100 percent voting 
records. When one of them finally failed to get back to the House in 
time, he wept on the floor after missing the first vote after 17,372 
consecutive votes. I also recall that former Representative Bill Natcher 
came from the Bethesda Naval Hospital on a gurney, on life supports, to 
vote so his consecutive voting record would not be broken.
    I told the new Members to avoid that situation. Just sit through a 
roll call vote on approving the Journal or something--you get 99.99 
percent, but you can't get 100. Second, I said that you ought to travel, 
if you get a chance in your committee, to some place where the 
committee's jurisdiction is involved. You'll learn something important 
about the committee's work. But you'll also have a chance to have some 
association with your colleagues. There's nothing like being together on 
an airplane for awhile, and being in a foreign country, to make Members 
who don't usually have much opportunity to see or talk to each other do 
that. You learn that there's a lot of wisdom and judgment and good 
character on the other side of the aisle, if you had any doubts about 
that. If you needed a political reason for travel, sometime later in 
your career you might get a vote from the Republican side of the aisle 
on something the Member had no particular interest in except the fact 
that you and he were together, or you and she were together, somewhere 
on committee business.
    Anyway, it turned out there was a press reporter in the room, and 
the next day he reported that Tom Foley, as Speaker of the House, told 
the Democrats of the 102d Congress to miss a vote and take a junket. Fox 
Morning News the next morning said they were shocked to learn that the 
Speaker of the House had told the newly elected Democrats to miss as 
many votes as they could--miss as many votes as they could--and never 
miss a chance to take a publicly financed trip abroad.
    There is a need for Members of Congress to have this opportunity to 
get through the divisions that we have on committees, the divisions that 
we have across the aisle, and to have a chance to know each other and to 
learn the kind of respect that follows from that. I think it helps in 
the legislative process. I think it helps bring about an opportunity for 
compromise and common effort.
    When you sit down here and reminisce about the past with other 
Speakers, I am reminded that I always had the problem of being mistaken 
for Tip, in part because Tip and I were about the same weight. 
Naturally, we both have white hair and big Irish mugs, as Tip said. When 
I became Speaker, I weighed about 283 pounds. I weigh about 90 pounds 
less than that today. But I remember I went to a gym in New Orleans when 
I was Speaker. A very old retainer of the club had been very helpful to 
me, and I thanked him. He said, ``Don't thank me, Mr. Speaker. It's been 
an honor and pleasure to have you here, and I'm going to tell all the 
club members we had the Honorable Mr. Tip O'Neill here in our club 
today.'' I didn't know what to say except thank you. A year later I was 
in Nordstrom's in San Francisco with Tom Nides, who was on my staff, and 
I bought a shirt. As I was leaving the counter, I heard the two clerks 
talk and one of them said, ``Do you know who that was?'' And the other 
said, ``No.'' He said, ``That's the Speaker of the House of 
Representatives.'' He said, ``Tip O'Neill?'' The other said, ``No, 
dummy--Jim Wright.'' Anyway, it was an honor to have followed both Tip 
and Jim.
    Mr. BIGGS. We've got time for one last question.
    Question. You talked about carrying out the speakership through 
processes of negotiation and coalition building that had to span both 
sides of the aisle. That's a mode of operation, as we've heard today, 
that goes right back to the ``Board of Education'' room and Sam Rayburn, 
if not before. I remember having the impression that when the New Yorker 
magazine did a profile of you during your speakership, that in a lot of 
cases the negotiations you were engaged in tended to be putting together 
different factions within what was a very large Democratic majority. 
We've also heard commentators say today that we're now in a more 
partisan era where a lot of the coalition building tends to take place 
within the majority party.
    To what extent, then, did the necessity of carrying out coalition 
negotiations--just to hold the large and diverse Democratic majority 
together--contribute to the situation in which the minority tend to get 
more and more left out of the coalition process? Did this trend 
contribute to a more partisan operation in the House?
    Speaker FOLEY. I think there's some truth to what you say. I think 
in recent years a close majority in the House and the Senate put an 
emphasis on getting legislation through with your own troops, and 
keeping the core coalition of your own party together. And that inhibits 
reaching out very much to the other party. It all depends on time and 
circumstances. In the Democratic Party, frankly, we had many more 
Members who were on the conservative side politically than Republicans 
had Members who were very liberal. There were a few, but I think the 
spectrum in the Democratic Party was much broader than it was in the 
Republican Party. So we had to deal with the possibility that 
Republicans would attract some support from Democrats. We had a 
committee chairman, I should say a subcommittee chairman, who somebody 
calculated had voted against the Democratic position on key bills 85 
percent of the time. I had to justify our continued support for him by 
the fact that he voted to organize the House, which was an important 
vote by the way.
    Coalition building also depends on whether there's a closely divided 
House and what party is in the White House. If you've got a Republican 
White House with a Democratic majority in the House, that requires 
greater consultation. It is true, frankly, that Republicans, I think, 
felt much more abused--I don't know what the right word is--much more 
ignored or much more overridden than the Democrats felt they were 
overriding or abusing. So it's a perception problem, in part. Now 
Democrats tell me whatever we did then pales compared to what the 
Republican majority is doing to the Democrats in the minority.
    I remember Speaker Hastert saying about a month ago, when this issue 
arose in the press, that at least the Republicans didn't take away the 
Democrats' parking spaces or office keys. With great respect to the 
Speaker, who I do admire very much, I can never recall us going so far 
as taking away a parking space or an office key. That would be really 
intervening. But it's always as seen by the beholder. I guess the other 
thing that's gone, in my judgment, is this kind of bipartisan social 
relationship. There was, I think, a tendency to become almost like the 
British parties. There is a tension not only on policy and even on party 
principle, but even personal tension. That is the degree to which, I 
think, the situation has gone too far and where it has had a deleterious 
effect on the House and its operations.
    Actually, my admiration and interest goes to the great Speakers of 
the 19th century, who were pretty authoritarian Speakers, by the way. My 
favorite is Thomas Brackett Reed, who was an enormously powerful Speaker 
and a very witty one. As legend has it, he was asked one time if he was 
going to go to the funeral of a political opponent. He said, ``No, I'm 
not going, but I approve of it highly.'' Somebody suggested that he 
might be a candidate for President himself and he said, ``They could go 
farther and do worse and they undoubtedly will.'' One Member was excited 
on the floor making a speech and said, ``Mr. Speaker, I'd rather be 
right than be President.'' The Speaker leaned down and said, ``The 
gentleman need not exorcise himself. He has very little chance of being 
    Mr. BIGGS. Could you speak for just a couple of minutes about 
something that is a little extra-legislative, and that is the whole idea 
of the budget summits during your speakership?
    Speaker FOLEY. The budget summits are the only time that I have a 
twinge of nostalgia about not being in the House anymore. And I don't 
understand why because budget summits were great periods of tension. We 
had two or three of them when I was a majority leader and Speaker. They 
involved various problems. One was the stock market crash of 1987. We 
had to do an emergency reduction of the budget in order to strengthen 
the market, along with the Federal Reserve's quick infusion of a lot of 
liquidity. I chaired a bipartisan House-Senate committee at that time--a 
task force, I guess. Senator John Stennis asked someone if that young 
Foley was chairing it. They said, ``Yes,'' to which he responded, ``I 
like young people to get their chance.'' I treasure that remembrance.
    We also had budget summits with President George H.W. Bush and it 
involved constant meetings in my office and other places where Nick 
Brady [Treasury Secretary] and John Sununu [White House Chief of Staff] 
and Mr. Dick Darman [OMB Director] would come up and we would work over 
the various alternatives. I remember the famous budget summit we had 
over the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill. Senator Fritz Hollings said his 
name on the end of the legislation was a sure way to anonymity because 
the proposal generally became known as Gramm-Rudman.
    This is an interesting form of the previous question. The House was 
then in Democratic control and the Senate was in Republican control. The 
summit was between House Democrats and Senate Republicans. We sat around 
my office--Senator Pete Domenici, Senator Warren Rudman, Senator 
Hollings, and others. The question was whether we should invite the 
minority to take part in it, that is, House Republicans and Senate 
Democrats. It was one of the Republican Members, who shall remain 
anonymous, who said, ``No, no, no. We are the governing coalition, the 
Democrats of the House and the Republicans of the Senate on this bill. 
And if we invite in the minority, yours or ours, they will have no 
particular incentive except to obstruct and delay.'' I didn't think that 
was right. I thought we should have invited the minority Members. But it 
was overruled at that time. Budget summits also can lead to very serious 
consequences. I think the defeat of the budget summit by the House under 
Newt Gingrich's leadership was a seminal event at the time.
    By the way, it's interesting for me to recall that single events 
that don't seem to be connected can have significant consequences. For 
example, Senator John Tower was appointed by President George Bush 41 to 
be the Secretary of Defense. He ran into the opposition of Senator Sam 
Nunn, and the Senate Armed Services Committee failed to report his 
nomination affirmatively. This was an embarrassment for the 
administration and they decided, I think, that they needed someone to 
appoint as Secretary of Defense that would be instantly confirmable--
unanimously confirmable. They decided that person was Dick Cheney, who 
was then Republican whip. He was taken from the House whip's job, 
nominated as Secretary of Defense, and unanimously confirmed by the 
Senate. Cheney's departure led to a race in the House between a moderate 
Member and Newt Gingrich to replace Secretary Cheney as GOP whip and 
Newt won by one vote. All this came about as a consequence of the 
opposition of some Democrats to John Tower's nomination to the Secretary 
of Defense job.
    Events have consequences. There are connections and some of us are 
old enough to recall them. By the way, I think Dick Cheney did a very 
credible job as Secretary of Defense and that, I think, led to the 
possibility of him becoming Vice President of the United States. So 
these things are interestingly connected.
    I'm generally not very much in favor of these extraordinary 
legislative vehicles like task forces and budget summits. But in times 
of emergency, sometimes regular order just doesn't function that quickly 
and that responsively to a crisis that exists in the country.
    I'd like to--because he's here and others are here--just say a word 
of great admiration for Dan Rostenkowski. He talked about Tip being a 
great legislator. I think Dan Rostenkowski was a great legislator. He 
also was a legislator who worked between the two parties in getting 
legislation out that was otherwise difficult to do. He would charge the 
President, if it was President Bush or whomever, to take care of his 
side of the aisle and he would take care of the Democrats. People I've 
talked to over the years remember with great respect Dan's service on 
the Ways and Means Committee. They have always commented that Dan kept 
his eye on the ball, knew where the legislation had to go, and was 
extraordinarily effective at getting things done. It was an era of great 
figures like Dan and John Dingell. Both of them were great figures 
because they were both great chairmen.
    Mr. BIGGS. Thanks to Messrs. Fazio and Frenzel, Speaker Foley, and 
the audience. We can now declare a recess until the next session begins.

                       The Historical Speakership

The Cannon Centenary Conference

The Historical Speakership

    Dr. BILLINGTON. It is my pleasure as Librarian of Congress to be 
here with you at this commemoration of Speaker Cannon and this happy 
gathering of so many distinguished and historymaking Speakers of the 
House. I always say that the Congress of the United States has been the 
greatest single patron of a library in the history of the world, 
gathering in books and materials as no other legislature, or no other 
government for that matter, has done so effectively. The collections 
come to us through copyright deposit of the creative output of the whole 
private sector of America, and also include much of the world's 
knowledge: two-thirds of our books are in languages other than English.
    I have to say that all of the Speakers that have been discussed so 
far, as well as the Speaker yet to come, have themselves played 
interesting and important roles sustaining the idea that every 
democracy--and especially one in a big, complex country like this--has 
to be based on knowledge and on ever more people having ever more access 
to ever more information. That was certainly true of everyone on the 
last panel that spoke, and I want to just take a moment to particularly 
single out Vic Fazio who, in his thankless work as chairman of the 
Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, played a 
particularly important role in the restoration of the Jefferson 
Building, without which that beautiful, extraordinary structure would 
not be seen in the same beauty and majesty that it is today. He also 
offered the first congressional support for the Library's digital 
outreach to the Nation, which has now reached the point that we had 3 
billion electronic transactions last year. This began in a small way 
with an important congressional appropriation, even though it has been 
largely funded by private money.
    And I should also mention in that regard the special role that 
Speaker Newt Gingrich played with his desire to have congressional 
information placed online: the whole THOMAS system owes a great deal to 
his initiative and support. I am here in active, humble gratitude for 
past and future users of the Library of Congress and also to give thanks 
to the private supporters of this important centennial; the foundations 
that have also made it possible; and, of course, to the Congressional 
Research Service under Dan Mulhollan's able leadership for putting all 
of this together.
    My job today is to introduce a real expert on this whole subject, 
Professor Robert Remini. He is associated with the Library to fulfill a 
congressional mandate, a mandate from the House in particular, to 
produce a history of the House of Representatives--one that would have 
scholarly substance and at the same time be accessible to a broad 
audience. We have been very fortunate to have enlisted the services of 
one of the most distinguished of American historians, Robert Remini. He 
is at present a distinguished senior scholar at the Kluge Center at the 
Library of Congress. As some of you may know, last week we gave out the 
first international prize in humanities and social sciences at the Nobel 
level through a Kluge endowment, and that has enabled us to bring some 
very distinguished scholars to the Library of Congress. The former 
President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, just joined us last 
week. One of the most distinguished of all of these scholars is Bob 
Remini, and certainly one of the most important of the projects being 
done there is his history of the House of Representatives.
    Despite the bad light and my failing eyes, I will read you some of 
his many distinctions. He is compiling a congressionally authorized one-
volume narrative history of the House of Representatives, which he has 
called--I'm quoting now--``an extraordinary institution with its vivid 
and sometimes outrageous personalities.'' You can see the little bit of 
adjectival twinkle already even in this brief characterization. He hopes 
his book will capture--I'm quoting again--``all the excitement and drama 
that took place during the past 200 years so that the record of [the 
House's] triumphs, achievements, mistakes and failures can be better 
known and appreciated by the American people.''
    Professor Remini was educated at Fordham University, and graduated 
in 1947 from Columbia University, where he finished his Ph.D. in 1951. 
He has been a teacher of American history for more than 50 years, the 
author of a three-volume biography of Andrew Jackson, and many other 
studies of Jackson's Presidency and of the Jacksonian era. He has also 
written biographies of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, 
and Joseph Smith. We know him as an earlier collaborator with the 
Library of Congress because he crafted the historical overview to a 
volume called Gathering History: the Marion S. Carson Collection of 
Americana in 1999. This is one of the Library's most important private 
collections of American history. It deals particularly with families in 
Pennsylvania from the early 1800s, and includes the first picture of a 
human face probably ever taken anywhere by a photograph, which was 
taken, it turned out, in Philadelphia, and which turned up in this 
collection. Professor Remini brought it to life in this wonderful 
volume, as he has brought to life so much of the American past and 
particularly our history and the functions of our government.
    Thus, we have with us a historian who has looked at America through 
a variety of perspectives from the top down, from the bottom up, through 
the lives of great men, and through the artifacts of American cultural 
life. Now he is writing about the legislative institution that for over 
200 years has grown to be the most consequential one in the free world. 
It is really hard to imagine a person better qualified by his long 
experience, and, I might add, by his energetic prowling of the halls of 
the House that he has been doing for the better part of a year. He has 
won many friends here. It is hard to imagine anyone better qualified by 
learning, experience, and temperament to undertake this task. 
Necessarily, his perspective, of course, has given him some insight into 
the role of Speakers over the years, and it is about them and their 
activities that he will speak to us this afternoon. So, it is my 
pleasure to present to you as close as we will ever get to a full 
chronicler of some of the early history of the House and someone who, 
with his own energy, vitality, and endless questioning for more than a 
year now, has this noble task of recording the story of the most 
important and the most representative legislature in the world. I give 
you Professor Robert Remini.
    Professor REMINI. Thank you very much, Dr. Billington, for that 
gracious introduction. I have a lot of people to thank. First of all, 
the Congressional Research Service who invited me here to come and talk 
about what I'm doing now in writing the history of the House of 
Representatives. I want to begin by singling out Congressman John 
Larson, whose idea it was to have a history written of this most 
important institution. Such a work has never been really done well, but 
there are indeed many books written about the House. I also want to 
thank Dr. Billington for inviting me to become a Kluge Scholar, and for 
providing me with an office in the Library of Congress, where I could 
write the history.
    I wasn't sure I could do justice to this history. I've always done 
biographies. I've never written an institutional history. But all of the 
biographies, or most of them, are about people who have served in the 
House, like Jackson, like Martin Van Buren, like Henry Clay, like Daniel 
Webster, like John Quincy Adams. And I thought writing such a history 
would be fun. I could come into Congress and meet all the Congressmen 
and get involved in congressional politics, observing the problems and 
challenges that the Members have to contend with.
    One of the things that is disheartening to me is that we do not 
honor the men and women who have shaped this most important institution. 
And especially the men who were the Speakers. This institution has 
evolved, and it is continuing to evolve, just as the Office of the 
Speaker has evolved from what Speaker Foley said was the British system. 
Which is what the Founders, I think, intended.
    When I was researching Henry Clay, a student of mine came to me and 
said, ``What are you working on now?'' And I said, ``I'm doing a 
biography of Henry Clay. Do you know who Henry Clay was?'' He said, 
``Sure.'' I said, ``That's wonderful. Who was he?'' He replied, ``He was 
the father of Cassius Clay.'' And he didn't mean the abolitionist 
Cassius Clay, either.
    Who today knows who Henry Clay was, for example? The Senate has 
selected five, I think it is, of their greatest Senators and recognized 
them. There is a room where their portraits are displayed. The presiding 
officers have their busts done after they step down. Two months ago, 
they had a commemorative ceremony for former Vice President Quayle. If 
you go into the Chamber of the House of Representatives, what do you 
see? George Washington--well, that's OK. I mean after all, he is the 
father of the country--you wouldn't have a republic without him. But 
what's his relationship to the House of Representatives? He gave it the 
back of his hand the first time they asked him for the appropriate 
documents related to the Jay Treaty so that they could legislate the 
moneys needed to implement the treaty. He wouldn't give the documents to 
them, replying instead, ``If you want to impeach me, then you can ask 
for these documents.'' But there he stands. In truth, he is the father 
of the country and deserving of great honor.
    On the other side of the rostrum is the Marquis de LaFayette. Now 
you tell me in God's name what did LaFayette have to do with the House 
of Representatives? He was the first foreigner to speak to the House. 
Big deal. You see what I mean? Rather, we should honor the people who 
have done important things in the House such as Henry Clay. The 
Founders, I think, intended that the legislature would be central to the 
whole governmental operation. Notice the Constitution talks a great deal 
about the Congress and all of its responsibilities and powers while 
those not listed are reserved to the States and the people. But then you 
look at the other two branches, which are supposed to be separate and 
equal, and there is relatively little discussion. The judiciary--there 
will be a supreme court and such inferior courts as Congress shall, from 
time to time, establish. The executive was not much better. He may 
receive reports from the departments. What departments? It does not say. 
It was up to the Congress, then, to flesh out these other two co-equal 
    It was also expected that the men who attended the First Congress 
would complete the process of establishing the government, and indeed 
they did. First, they chose a Speaker. As the present Speaker, Dennis 
Hastert, said, ``That's the first office that is mentioned.'' And in 
creating the office they were thinking, I believe, of someone akin to 
the British Speaker, who was nothing more than a traffic cop, 
recognizing one person over another, calling for votes, being non-
    The Office of the Speaker changed almost immediately with the 
formation of political parties because then you had two distinct views 
about how the government should operate. And I must say, as an aside, 
that what has happened here today having this conference is something 
that should be done much more often. There ought to be a greater 
awareness and sense of our past. We honor the living Speakers here 
present, but how about those who came before? This is, in part, my job 
and I think the fact that the Members of the House have asked for a 
history of their institution shows some indication that they are anxious 
to have the collective memory of the House preserved and respected.
    Theodore Sedgwick was the first Speaker who really used his office 
in a partisan way. But none of those early leaders were really creative 
in revolutionizing the office. Not until you get Henry Clay. He was 
elected on the first vote of the first day of his own tenure in the 
House. But the Members knew who he was, and his reputation. They wanted 
somebody who could really lead this country in the direction that they 
felt they needed to go. And here was a man who saw his opportunity to 
take an office which was practically insignificant and so reshape it to 
be the most powerful in the country politically after the Office of the 
President. Because that is what, in effect, he did. And the Members who 
elected him Speaker knew he would be dealing with very difficult men, in 
particular John Randolph of Roanoke. Randolph had been a powerful 
chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and Jefferson's floor manager 
in the House until he broke with him. He brought his dogs into the 
House. How about that? And anybody who tried to interfere, he would 
strike them with his riding whip. It was chaotic.
    Let me give you an example of some of the chaos that we've had in 
the House. I'm sort of jumping out of the period for the moment, but 
I'll be right back. I'm quoting from the Cincinnati Enquire of June 20, 
1884. ``If every man in the House should fall dead in his seat, it would 
be a God's blessing to the country. And in less than two months, we 
would have a new set of men who would be just as wise and good as their 
predecessors. Today the Congress is a conclave of hirelings, wind bags, 
mediocrities and dawdlers. Members of the House are sprawled in their 
chairs and put their feet on the desks. They abuse door keepers, munch 
peanuts, apples, toothpicks, suck unlit cigars. [Uncle Joe Cannon was a 
great one for sucking unlit cigars.] Spit tobacco on the rugs and 
carpets and clean their fingernails with pocket knives. No matter how 
persistently the Speaker pounded the gavel, the representatives kept 
right on talking to one another. With bar rooms in the cloak rooms and 
below stairs, whiskey flowed as freely as oratory. Saturdays were 
special in the House--then representatives could hold forth with bunkum 
speeches that no one heeded on any subject they pleased and fill 70 
pages of the Congressional Record.''
    It was when you had strong leadership and Speakers who embrace a 
vision of where they think the country needs to go and have the will, 
the brains, the strength to direct them in that direction, toward that 
goal, that is when the House really asserts its authority. Clay had his 
American system, and for 10 years it was the House of Representatives, 
under his direction, that determined domestic policy in this country, 
which is amazing. But he had problems in handling particular Members. A 
man like John Randolph of Roanoke, for example. They finally fought a 
duel, as you probably know. Once, they were walking down the street 
toward one another, each coming closer and closer, neither willing to 
give way. Let the other man step aside for me. And when they got 
practically eyeball to eyeball, Randolph stopped in his tracks and he 
looked at Clay and said, ``I never side-step skunks.'' When Henry Clay 
heard that he said, ``I always do.'' And he jumped out of the way!
    Speakers have to be smart to be great, I find. Sam Rayburn said it 
best, ``You need two things to be Speaker: brains and backbone.'' I have 
found that many of the great Speakers have very sharp minds and very 
sharp tongues. You heard what Speaker Foley said about Speaker Reed--
I've got a lot of examples of Reed's quick mind and tongue. For example, 
he said to one Representative at the time, ``You are too big a fool to 
lead and you haven't got enough sense to follow.'' In other words you're 
    Henry Clay, of course, is a very unique figure. And the pity is that 
he has not had the attention and recognition that the House itself ought 
to accord him. And, it should be noted, when you don't have a Henry 
Clay, you get a Thaddeus Stevens, who isn't the Speaker, he's the 
chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, but during Reconstruction, the 
most powerful man operating in the House. It's not until you get toward 
the end of the century with Samuel Randall and Thomas Reed that things 
change, men who then begin to realize that the only way you can really 
do the people's business and get men to attend to their duties is to use 
the rules and shape the rules for that purpose.
    Many Speakers have described what they believe are the 
responsibilities of a Speaker. Notice the Speaker today talked about 
what he felt his duties were. Henry Clay, when he spoke of them, said 
that they ``enjoin promptitude and impartiality in deciding various 
questions of order as they arise; firmness and dignity in his deportment 
toward the House; patience, good temper, and courtesy toward the 
individual Members, and the best arrangement and distribution of talent 
of the House, in its numerous subdivisions for the dispatch of the 
public business, and the fair exhibition of every subject presented for 
consideration. They especially require of him, in those moments of 
agitation from which no deliberative assembly is always exempted, to 
remain cool and unshaken amidst all the storms of debate, carefully 
guarding the preservation of the permanent laws and rules of the House 
from being sacrificed to temporary passions, prejudice or interests.''
    Each of the many men who have served in this office tries to 
describe his duties in a way that recognizes that there is this tension 
between a man who is really the majority leader of his party and also 
the presiding officer of the House who is expected to be impartial and 
even-handed in his relations with all the Members.
    In the 19th century, they didn't have a majority or a minority 
leader as such. Presumably, the man who lost the election for Speaker 
from the opposite party was the minority leader. But there was no whip. 
All of that comes at the end of the 19th century. And the role of 
Speaker is one in which he uses his office to forward a program or a 
vision that he has (or is stated in the party platform) that says that 
these are the things that we stand for, that we feel are important and 
helpful to the American people, and want to see legislated. Yet he has 
another role, which is to be the moderator of a number of men who can 
disagree violently and have in the past actually attacked each other 
with knives. We have lots of stories just before the Civil War, as you 
know, when they were physically attacking one another because of their 
differences over slavery. How do you balance those two aspects of the 
Speaker's position? Notice that the Speakers today always mention that 
they tried to be fair in their dealings with all the Members to be sure 
everybody and each side receives equal treatment. Reed, who was probably 
the first great Speaker after Clay, said this: ``Whenever it is imposed 
upon Congress to accomplish a certain work, it is the duty of the 
Speaker who represents the House and who, in his official capacity is 
the embodiment of the House to carry out that rule of law or of the 
Constitution. It then becomes his duty to see that no factious 
opposition prevents the House from doing its duty. He must brush away 
all unlawful combinations to misuse the rules and he must hold the House 
strictly to its work.'' He also said, ``The best system to have is one 
in which one party governs and the other party watches. And on general 
principle, I think it would be better for us to govern and the Democrats 
to watch.''
    He had trouble with the Democrats who would pull what was called a 
``disappearing quorum.'' They would call for a roll call, and they were 
present in the Chamber, and those who did not respond when their names 
were called were marked absent. Finally, Reed decided he would put an 
end to the disappearing quorum. So when the clerk called the roll and an 
individual didn't answer, the clerk was ready to mark him ``absent.'' 
When the clerk got to the Member from Kentucky by the name of McCreary, 
who did not answer and would normally be marked absent, Reed directed 
the clerk to mark him present.
    McCreary objected. ``I deny your right, Mr. Speaker,'' he said, ``to 
count me as present.'' Then Reed very calmly turned to him and said, 
``The Chair is making a statement of the fact that the gentleman from 
Kentucky is present. Does he deny it?'' So from then on, if a Member was 
physically present in the House, he was counted present whether he said 
``present'' or not. Sometimes when they would start the roll call, 
Members would duck under the chairs and under the tables so they 
wouldn't be seen.
    Dilatory amendments were another technique to stall action on bills. 
Sometimes the session ended with 1,000 bills still waiting for action. 
When Reed was Speaker not only did they pass all the bills they were 
supposed to, they appropriated for the first time $1 billion. And people 
said, ``My God--a billion dollars.'' And Reed responded, ``It's a 
billion dollar country.'' Joseph Cannon inherited this power. Now Cannon 
was a very gregarious, delightful, loveable tyrant. He used his power to 
maintain the status quo. They said if there had been a meeting or a 
caucus to decide whether creation would be brought up out of chaos, 
Cannon would have voted for chaos rather than creation. Let's keep 
things the way they are. This was his motto. When he was the chairman of 
the Appropriations Committee, he supposedly said, ``You think my 
business is to make appropriations, it is not. It is to prevent their 
being made.'' That gives you some idea of his position. He also said to 
William McKinley, ``That it was easier for a politician to get along 
with a reputation as a sinner than with a reputation as a saint. I have 
been accused of being a profane man, who played cards and showed other 
evil tendencies. While McKinley had a reputation for being thoroughly 
good and kind and gentle. Who never swore or took a drink or played a 
game of cards. He couldn't talk plainly to people because of his 
gentleness. And he could not take a glass of beer without shocking the 
temperance people who had endorsed him. On the other hand, I could do 
much as I pleased without unduly shocking anybody. For little was 
expected of me. If I showed gentility, I simply caused surprise at my 
improvement. Or,'' he said, ``I could throw the responsibility on the 
newspapers for misrepresenting me.''
    Cannon also said that he had looked into the matter of being 
Speaker. ``I have control of the South half of the Capitol. I manage the 
police, run the restaurant, settle contests over committee rooms and in 
general, I'm a Poo Bah \1\.'' The Speaker who followed him was a totally 
different man. As you know, Cannon became Speaker in 1903, which is 100 
years ago. So in that sense, we do honor him particularly today. He 
showed what it was like to have the kind of government in which nothing 
really happened. He opposed any kind of reform, whether it came from his 
own party or not. He disliked Teddy Roosevelt and his program, as well 
as the program of the opposition.
\1\ A reference to a character from Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The 
    But he finally pushed it too far. The revolution continued and he 
was stripped of his powers in 1910. The House then had to remake itself 
and the Office of the Speaker. You have people coming forward like 
Nicholas Longworth, who aided the process. When he was elected Speaker 
he recognized this tension between presiding over the House and leading 
his party. He said, ``I propose to administer with the most rigid 
impartiality, with an eye single to the maintenance, to the fullest 
degree, of the dignity and the honor of the House and the rights and the 
privileges of its members. I promise you that there will be no such 
thing as favoritism in the treatment by the chair of either parties or 
individuals. But on the other hand, the political side, to my mind, 
involves a question of party service. I believe it to be the duty of the 
speaker standing squarely on the platform of his party to assist in so 
far as he properly can the enactment of legislation in accordance with 
the declared principles and politics of his party. And by the same 
token, to resist the enactment of legislation in variance thereof. I 
believe in responsible party government.''
    I think, following him, the most important Speaker--and I'm not 
going to comment at all on those who are still living. I'll have my say 
when the book is finished later in a few years--was Sam Rayburn, who 
presided longer than any other Speaker. He is a fit candidate for 
recognition as a statesman and great leader. Lyndon Johnson seemed to 
think otherwise. He claimed, ``Rayburn is a piss poor administrator. He 
doesn't anticipate problems and he runs the House out of his back ass 
pocket.'' Others had a better opinion in which one man said, ``Mr. Sam 
is very convincing. There he stands, his left hand on your right 
shoulder holding your coat button. Looking at you out of honest eyes 
that reflect the sincerest emotions. He's so dammed sincere and 
dedicated to a cause, and he believes in his country and his job, and he 
knows it inside out so well that I would feel pretty dirty to turn him 
down and not trust him knowing that he would crawl to my assistance if I 
needed him.'' I think that almost sounds like what they [participants in 
this conference] were saying earlier with respect to Tip O'Neill. 
Rayburn himself said--and I mentioned this before--that a man needs to 
have a backbone and brains in his head. He remembered Reed, and he said, 
``I remember him well--big head, big brains.'' He added, ``I always 
wanted responsibility, because I wanted power. The power that 
responsibility brings. I hate like hell to be licked. It always kills 
    I think what the Speakers, the good ones, have learned is that the 
only way you get things done is not to treat the Members the way this 
man [pointing to a picture of Cannon] did, as just servants or slaves to 
do his bidding. Instead, treat those men as his equal, to whom he can go 
and make his pitch with all of the sincerity and the passion in him if 
he really cares about the bill that he's trying to sponsor, and get 
these men to know that he feels sincerely that this is what the people 
want. This is what is good for the country. Because that, in the long 
run, is what their duty is to the country, to the Nation. They are 
legislating for all of us and we only hope to God they are doing it for 
all the right reasons and are led by men and women who care passionately 
about what they were doing.
    My research has taught me something else that surprised me. And that 
was how intelligent, how gifted so many of the men and women who are 
Representatives today really are and how mistaken the American people 
are about the quality of the men and women who serve them. I think it is 
a great shame, and I hope to do something to change that opinion. Thank 
you very much.
    Dr. BILLINGTON. We're a little over time, but I think we have time 
for perhaps one question if there is one from the floor.
    Question. Is there in Longworth's speakership the beginnings of the 
process of trying to find the levers by which to recentralize power in 
the House that continues through Rayburn and subsequent Speakers. Can 
you speak to that?
    Professor REMINI. You see, you have two different types, and I 
didn't really have time to develop them, in which you get men who are 
very, very intelligent, quick-witted, well-read. And those who come out 
of the prairie like Uncle Joe and are much more interested in the 
process rather than in the results. And they know, of course, that they 
have these levers of power and they have to use them. When it got to a 
point where power was misused, then you got a new man, Longworth, who 
was intelligent, educated, and felt passionately about the House and 
what he was doing. He was a man of great ability to handle different 
sides of a difficult question. He could handle difficult people. After 
all, he was married to Alice Roosevelt, who was a very difficult woman. 
He knew how to win compromises. You know, I'm going off on a tangent, 
but I hope I'm making the point.
    When I wrote my book on Henry Clay, the title of it was Henry Clay: 
The Great Compromiser. And the editor said that, ``No, today people 
think of compromisers as men and women who have no principles at all.'' 
But that is not what Henry Clay was. Henry Clay was looking for 
solutions to avoid conflict. To him compromise meant simply this: that 
each side gives something that the other side wants so that there is no 
loser and no winner. Because if you have a loser and a winner, you are 
going to perpetuate the quarrel. The only way to resolve these problems 
is to give a little, to get a little, and be willing to accept that. 
That's what happened with the Missouri Compromise. That's what happened 
with the Compromise of 1850. That's what happened with the Compromise 
Tariff of 1833. And that was the lesson that they understood.
    This is what Longworth then tried to do. He wanted to compromise the 
differences between those like Cannon who wanted an authoritarian kind 
of leadership, and those who were determined to go the other way and 
have a freewheeling, very liberal kind of leadership. And it's that kind 
of individual who can find those means to make men who have to work 
together co-exist. That's why I think it's important today to have 
sessions like this, so that men and women of the two different parties 
can at least speak to one another. Did you notice how often it was 
mentioned today the civility that once existed seems to have been 
diminished? Oh, there's always incivility. When Thomas Hart Benton made 
some remarks that offended southerners, the argument became very heated. 
When one southerner reached into his pocket and pulled out a pistol, 
Benton tore open his shirt and said, ``Shoot, you damn assassin--
shoot.'' And you can imagine what happened in the Chamber.
    Oh, there are some glorious scenes of pandemonium in the House and 
in the Senate as men tried to compromise their differences. And I'm not 
saying that you have to give up what is essential to your position. But 
you have to give in order to take. I don't want to go into any specifics 
with Longworth as to his style. It would take more time than I have. But 
it is that kind of leadership, I think, that makes the difference 
between great Speakers and those who are failures. I've always thought 
that Speakers are like Presidents. We've had great ones and we've had 
failures, and a lot of in-betweens. We have the Lincolns and the 
Washingtons and the Roosevelts who were Speakers, and we also have the 
Buchanans and the Hardings. The difference, I think, is one in which men 
try to bring about a consensus for the sake of the American people and 
what they need and what has to be done.
    Dr. BILLINGTON. Many of you will remember that for the 200th 
anniversary of the Congress, David McCullough spoke to a joint session 
and pointed out how little attention has been paid to the history of the 
Congress. He specifically mentioned a large list of Speakers for whom 
there is no reliable, serious biography. Certainly the historical study 
of the Congress as a whole is an important and neglected subject. I know 
that former Congressman John Brademas is trying to set up an institute 
for the study of Congress at New York University. There is great and 
growing interest in this subject. So I hope that this conference is not 
the last where we will get people together so that we hear both from the 
distinguished Members who have sat in these important positions and from 
the historical profession that gives us some perspective on it all. I 
think you will all want to join me in thanking Bob Remini for sharing 
with us his vitality and enthusiasm, that I think is infectious, and his 
knowledge. We all look forward to seeing those qualities in the history 
of the House when it comes out. Thank you again.

Photograph by DeJonge Studio      

                  Hon. Newt Gingrich, Speaker 1995-1999
                        The Gingrich Speakership

The Cannon Centenary Conference

The Gingrich Speakership

    Mr. OLESZEK. This conference now turns to an examination of the 
Gingrich speakership. I am delighted to introduce our moderator for this 
panel--Don Wolfensberger. As many of you know, Don is a 30-year House 
veteran who was staff director of the Rules Committee during the 
chairmanship of the late Gerald Solomon of New York. Currently, Mr. 
Wolfensberger is the director of The Congress Project at the Woodrow 
Wilson Center for International Scholars. He is also the author of an 
award-winning book titled Congress and the People: Deliberative 
Democracy on Trial. Don, the podium is yours.
    Mr. WOLFENSBERGER. Thank you, Walter. I want to add my thanks to the 
Carl Albert Center and to the McCormick Tribune Foundation for 
sponsoring this event. I also want to add my kudos to the Congressional 
Research Service, Dan Mulhollan, Walter Oleszek and their whole team, 
for putting together just a marvelous all-day conference. Please join me 
in thanking them. What I'll do is introduce Newt Gingrich first and then 
I'll have introductions for each of our two discussants, Leon Panetta 
and Bob Walker, when it's their turn to speak.
    I vividly recall a day in early October 1994--I think it was after a 
Republican leadership meeting--and Newt Gingrich made me a bet, or tried 
to. He said, ``Wolfie--I'll bet you 50 cents that we take control of the 
House in the next month's elections.'' Well, I kind of brushed it off 
and I said, ``I'm not really a betting man, but I sure hope you're 
right.'' But I remember thinking to myself--does he really believe 
that's going to happen? You know, all the pundits, the political pros, 
the prognosticators at the time were saying, in effect, that the 
Republicans might pick up 20, maybe even 30, seats in the 1994 elections 
for the House.
    Well, as you know, the rest is history. On November 8, 1994, the 
tsunami happened and Republicans picked up not just the 40 seats that 
they needed for a bare 218 majority, but 52 seats and brought in 74 
freshmen Republican Members. I think, to his credit, Newt Gingrich had 
prepared his party for the takeover. Not only was the ``Contract with 
America'' unveiled in September, the product of a year-long development 
effort by the Republican conference, but he had also tasked each of the 
ranking minority members on the committees and their staff to put 
together an organizational plan, a game plan, for how they would run 
their committees for the first year once we won the majority. And this 
was done early in 1994.
    I was really grateful, as the appointed staff director of the Rules 
Committee, that we had that document in our hands when we awakened on 
the morning of November 9. Everyone was plugged in to Newt's planning 
model--``vision, strategy, projects, tactics.'' And everyone also knew 
the leadership model of ``listen, learn, help, and lead.'' So we were 
trained for this, but we had no idea, really, of what we were getting 
    The Rules Committee, where I was working for Jerry Solomon, was at 
the center of the action in processing the Contract bills. You may 
recall that the Contract with America was a 10-plank legislative 
program. But that really translated into about two dozen bills when it 
was broken down. And most of these, if not all of them, were coming 
through the Rules Committee where we were busily still trying to find 
out where the bathrooms were. I remember thinking in the middle of the 
100-day Contract period that I wish Newt Gingrich had been a little more 
like Joe Cannon in one respect. Joe Cannon once said, ``We don't need 
any new legislation. Everything is just fine back in Danville.''
    But for me, the high point really of the whole experience was the 
opening day of 104th Congress when we worked all day and well into the 
night debating and voting on a package of House reforms that had been 
developed over the years. Not only did the Contract have an 8-point plan 
for various House reforms such as banning proxy voting, putting term 
limits on committee chairmen and so on, but there were 24 other reforms 
that had evolved over a 3-decade period that I had had the pleasure and 
the honor to work with our leadership in developing. Most of these were 
put into effect in just 1 day. You can imagine how that would be the 
highlight of a career for someone like me.
    As I mentioned in my book about this whole experience, I did leave 
the Congress after the first 2 years of the Republican takeover. I had 
my 30 years of government service and was ready to do something new. But 
I looked back on it and I said that this was a very interesting 2 years. 
It was like a roller coaster ride when you consider all of the ups and 
downs of the 104th Congress. But I would not have missed it for the 
world. So with that, I probably for the first time want to thank you for 
quite a ride, Newt. And with that, I give you Speaker Newt Gingrich.
    Speaker GINGRICH. Thank you, Don. It's very good to be here with two 
of the friends I served with for years. Bob Walker, who helped found the 
Conservative Opportunity Society--we did so many different projects 
together--and Leon Panetta, with whom I served in the House and got to 
know even more when he became Chief of Staff for President Clinton. I 
also want to acknowledge Chairman Rostenkowski--it's great to see you 
back. We were over just now in Speaker Hastert's office reminiscing with 
four Speakers, which I think is the only time I know of that you've had 
four Speakers at one place. Many of you who are true students of the 
House will appreciate the speed with which we arrived on the topic of 
the Senate and found a bipartisan, non-ideological passion and 
agreement, which I'm not going to go into today because of my interest 
in comity.
    I thought about this chance to talk, and I want to try to keep it 
fairly brief. I want to give you an overview of my understanding of what 
happened to us when we won control of the House. And I want to suggest 
to everyone--if you get a chance--please read Kings of the Hill by Dick 
and Lynne Cheney, both the first edition, which came out in 1983, and 
the second edition, which came out after I had become Speaker.
    The first point I want to make is that they captured two things in 
their works. First, if you look at page 194, they said, ``Today's House 
has neither strong leadership nor any other well-developed centralized 
power. Authority is dispersed among a few elected leaders, many 
committee chairmen, and a multitude, or so it sometimes seems, of 
subcommittee chairmen (there are currently 137).'' They then go on to 
describe the kind of leadership that might be needed in the information 
age, arguing that it would be a party leader who could combine debates 
on the floor with grassroots activism in real time--a synergistic 
network. They wrote this in 1983 and I think it's a very good forerunner 
for what we actually did in the intervening period. Again, I would 
encourage everyone to look at the two editions of Kings of the Hill, 
they are very revealing each in their own right.
    To a degree that it's almost impossible to get this city to think 
about, the Republican capture of the House was an intellectual effort. I 
think that has been very hard for people to appreciate. It was a long 
march in the sense that there are some fundamental things that I had 
learned early on. I always recommend Peter Drucker's The Effective 
Executive to groups, which I first read in the late sixties. If you read 
books like that, you begin to think about how much we had to aggregate 
resources and how many things we had to do right, because 1994 was not 
an accidental campaign. It was a campaign which required some help from 
our opponents and which we would not have won under other circumstances. 
We could have gained 25 seats and probably would have but not without 
all of the previous 16 years of work. And so I start with that.
    Additionally, I would say that House GOP campaign chairman Guy 
Vander Jagt was the unsung hero, both because Vander Jagt insisted on 
supporting my candidacy when I had lost twice, and because when I became 
a freshman, even before I was even sworn in, he asked me to chair the 
long-range planning committee to look at how to become a majority. I 
always point out to people--we failed in 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 
1990, and 1992 before we won in 1994. So first of all, it wasn't like 
there was this sudden magic moment. I mean we had a lot of things that 
didn't work right. It's a sign that if you can persevere, that can be a 
very important component of victory over time. In that context, I think 
you have to look at a series of stages.
    However, I just want to cite another book for 1 more minute. The 
1994 election was essentially based upon Norman Nie's The Changing 
American Voter, and Robert Remini's The Election of Andrew Jackson, and 
it is actually worth your time to read these two books if you are a 
serious student of how this business works. We were looking for models 
of how do you get very large-scale change? Remember, the point Don made 
wasn't unusual. I think only a small number of chairmen, including Bob 
Walker, thought we could win a majority. If you look at the news media 
prediction outtakes during the weekend before the election, they are 
almost funny in retrospect because it was inconceivable that we could 
create a majority--it had been so long. What people failed to understand 
is the hardest election was going to be in 1996. Republicans had become 
a majority in 1946 and we had become a majority in 1952, but we had not 
won a second consecutive election since 1928.
    September 17, 1994, was the day that Joe Gaylord briefed the GOP 
team. We had a team that was going on a campaign swing on September 17--
Dan Meyer, Steve Hanser, Kerry Knott, Joe Gaylord, and myself. 
Literally, as we were taking off at National, I asked both Kerry Knott, 
who headed up our planning operation, and Dan Meyer, what were we 
planning on the night after the election? At that time, I was still the 
minority whip and Bob Michel was still the GOP leader. I said, ``On 
election night, are we planning for me to be minority leader or to be 
Speaker?'' And Gaylord broke in and said, ``Well, you better be planning 
to be Speaker, because you're going to be.'' Dan Meyer then turned to 
him and said, ``OK, before we do anything else, explain this 
prediction.'' Gaylord started in Maine and, by memory, went through 
every congressional seat in the country and came up with a 52-seat gain. 
I think we gained 53, so he was off by 1.
    From that date on, my entire goal was to be able to maintain the 
momentum of doing what we had pledged while winning a second election in 
1996. And I would argue the second election was much harder. Leon 
Panetta may want to comment on that. Democrats did a brilliant job of 
orchestrating resources, designing images, and really taking it to us. 
By our count, there were 125,000 negative ads around the country that 
had me in it. We made a conscious decision not to defend me, and we made 
a decision that our historic goal was to keep control. We also decided 
to balance the budget and we knew that meant you had to reform Medicare. 
We were close enough to AARP and Horace Deets, its executive director, 
who had the nerve to stay with us long enough that we ran seven points 
ahead of Bob Dole among senior citizens and that was the margin of 
victory. Very briefly, I think that there are six stages that are worth 
looking at. First, how did we grow the majority? You have to look at Bob 
Walker, Vin Weber, Connie Mack, Duncan Hunter and the entire GOP team 
that created the Conservative Opportunity Society as well as GOPAC and 
the extraordinary work of people like Bo Callaway and Gay Gaines in 
creating a nation-wide network of literally, at its peak, 50,000 
activist Republican candidates and incumbents receiving audio tapes and 
    Second, how did we implement the revolution? And there you have to 
look at what was really an extraordinary team in a specific moment as 
the loyal opposition. Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Bob Walker, Bill Paxon and 
I sat down and said, ``OK, can we be a single team? Because if we're a 
single team, we can amass the energy to win the election, but if we are 
five independent egos competing with each other, we probably can't win a 
majority.'' And to his credit Dick Armey, who was clearly the decisive 
person at that point, said, ``This is really hard for me. I've always 
flown solo. You're asking me to fly in formation. I really have to go 
home and talk to my wife and pray about it.'' And within a week, he came 
back and said, ``We are one team.'' We operated, from that point on, as 
one single unified team, and it was an amazing accomplishment.
    The other person you have to recognize is the new Governor of 
Mississippi, Haley Barbour, and it concerned a key moment in Annapolis, 
Maryland, where the Republican Senators had gone to decide what to do 
about Hillary Clinton's health care plan. Over a drink at the tavern 
right across from the State Capitol, I said to Haley Barbour, then the 
chairman of the Republican National Committee [RNC], ``If you will help 
us, we will do a contract with America and we'll include tort reform.'' 
And he said, ``By George, if you'll include that, I'll pay for the ad.'' 
It was at that point that his assistant said he would never again go out 
for a drink, because it was the most expensive single trip he had ever 
    All this became a process. We now had a commitment from the RNC to 
run a two-page ad in TV Guide, so you could now go back to Members and 
say, ``Gee, we've got to get a contract, because we've got the ad to 
fill.'' We began a dialog where ``listen, learn, help, lead'' came in 
because you had to get 350 independent entrepreneurs called Republican 
candidates to sign a contract. Remember: this is the only time in 
American history that candidates didn't have a platform which says, ``We 
believe in such and so.'' Instead, we had a contract which said, ``We 
will vote on specifications,'' which is a much higher standard.
    There were only three incumbents, to the best of my knowledge, who 
did not sign the contract. Everyone else signed the contract. The 
contract, in my mind, was a management document which enabled me to 
pivot and turn to Bob Walker, Dick Armey, and Tom DeLay and say, ``You 
guys get this through.'' Armey literally had total control of the floor 
in a way I don't think any Speaker normally has delegated that 
responsibility. From day one, I turned over control of the floor so I 
could then focus on figuring out with Bob Livingston, Bill Archer, and 
John Kasich how we were going to balance the budget, because you 
couldn't have done both in the same setting. You had to have different 
leadership operating both projects. So everything that was driving Don 
crazy on the floor was being driven by Armey based on what was in the 
contract we had signed before the election. By the way, we wouldn't have 
gotten it signed after the election. Once these guys got to be chairmen, 
there was no hope they were going to sign a contract because it gave 
away too much power. We then had a pretty serious effort to centralize 
authority in the speakership, something, which is fair to say, has 
continued to this day.
    The next phase after that was winning the crucial election of 1996. 
And there the key, as Don was saying, was an enormous effort. I have a 
tremendous respect for Dan Miller of Florida, because he trained every 
single one of our Members with very few exceptions. They could then all 
go home and answer Medicare questions and win the Medicare argument, 
because we thought that was the crisis of the campaign on our side. The 
other two things I'd say is we had a very close working relationship 
with Scott Reed, Dole's 1996 Presidential campaign manager, a guy named 
Don Rumsfeld over at the Dole campaign, and a very close relationship 
with Haley Barbour. Frankly, if we had not had the foreign campaign 
contribution scandal of the last 10 days, I think we might have lost 
control of the House. But the combination of winning Medicare, having 
raised enough resources with the aid of Bill Paxon, and then having the 
ability to focus a lot of energy on the question about foreign 
contributions got us through winning reelection for the first time since 
    Fourth, we had a phase of working with Bill Clinton. And the fact 
is, if you look at welfare reform, which was signed; you look at the 
balanced budget, which was negotiated out and signed; you look at a 
number of other issues, including creating the Hart-Rudman Commission; 
there were a whole series of things working in 1996 and then 
particularly in 1997, where I thought there was a real momentum of 
cooperation. This is a period that you have to look at as genuine 
bipartisan cooperation. We were actually passing bills and routinely 
getting about half of the Democratic Caucus to vote with us.
    Part five of this in my mind is that perjury drowned out the 
bipartisanship. The question of what was happening with the Presidency 
just shattered party cooperation, and the President couldn't risk any of 
his left so we were pinned into being in a fight with him. All of 1998 
was, in a sense, a great lost opportunity. If that had not happened, if 
that particular scandal had not broken out, my hunch in retrospect is 
you would have seen a much different 1998. We would have passed an 
amazing amount of very positive legislation on a bipartisan basis. I 
think that's where President Clinton was headed, and I think that all 
went down the tubes in December and January.
    Finally, the sixth and last stage for me was when it was clearly 
time for a new Speaker and there were a lot of different factors there. 
One was my exhaustion. A second was the fact that the ethics war against 
me had taken its toll. A third was the fact the House is really not 
designed to have an entrepreneurial dominating figure in the speakership 
position. Henry Clay pulled it off in a very different world in very 
different settings. But it's very difficult to do because the House 
really is a collection of equally-elected people who have real authority 
and real power. Far more than the Senate, the House really delegates 
authority to its committees, and its committee chairmen really acquire 
mastery of their topic. The idea that there might be some guy at the 
center who is going to run over them is anathema to the way the House 
has been structured--except for a very brief period, I would argue, 
under Cannon and a very brief period earlier than that under Speaker 
Reed from Maine and under Clay in a very different world. It's very hard 
to go back and imagine the House of Representatives when Clay was 
Speaker because it was so much smaller and so very different.
    I basically had burned out the centralizing process. Losing seats in 
November 1998 sealed that and, in my judgment, made it appropriate for 
me to leave and to permit a different kind of speakership to emerge. I 
also think that Speaker Hastert has actually carried out a more 
conciliatory, more managerial speakership with extraordinary skill and 
has gotten an amazing amount done, given the size of his majorities.
    In retrospect, I'll just close by saying there are four big things I 
would do differently. The first, looking back on September 17, 1994, I 
should have understood that the jump from the minority whip's job to the 
leader of a national movement at the center of the national news media 
and chief organizer of the House was an enormous jump. We should have 
brought in a number of very senior people with Presidential and 
gubernatorial experience, because we needed to upgrade our operations. 
This is not a bad comment about anyone on the team, nor is it a bad 
comment about any of our staffs, who are fabulous. It is simply an 
objective fact. We were suddenly on a different playingfield and we were 
going to get overmatched by reality, even though I think we accomplished 
an amazing amount.
    The second is I should have had much more media discipline. I say 
this not because of the times when I would say things that would get me 
in trouble, when I was just being a partisan Speaker, but because I 
would get confused about my role. There's a side of me that's 
permanently analytical, that likes coming and giving the speech, and 
that side of me should not have been allowed out of the box for the 
entire time I was Speaker. If I really had to say something, I should 
have said it into a tape recorder for the archives and brought it out as 
a book 20 years later. Instead, I would go and say something 
controversial. You go back and look at the whole Air Force One example 
where I just handed Leon Panetta and his boss an opportunity to just 
beat me around the head and shoulders for no good reason.
    If you actually go and look at the text of my comments at a Sperling 
breakfast [sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor], they were 
analytical comments about the difficulty of understanding how to 
negotiate with Clinton. I wasn't complaining about what happened except 
to say, ``I don't know how you read him.'' Within an hour, my 
observation was immediately turned to ``Gingrich was whining,'' which 
then got turned into a picture of me as a crybaby on the front page of 
the New York Daily News. That story led some of my colleagues to think 
I'd lost my mind. Well, I will tell you in retrospect, they were right. 
A fully professional Speaker would have understood that it was somebody 
else's job to comment on Clinton, that that wasn't my job. I have the 
greatest respect for President George W. Bush and the later phase of 
President Clinton's term, when he got much more disciplined, and for 
President Reagan, who understood that this is who I have to be in this 
context to play this game, captured brilliantly by John Keegan in a book 
called The Mask of Command.
    Third, the ethics charges have never been actually looked at. I 
really recommend, if you want to understand my speakership, that you 
read the volume published by the Ethics Committee. It includes all of my 
planning documents. You'll understand how intellectual this process 
really was, because it's all been published. It's all available for 
students of how you do these things. In retrospect, I underestimated the 
degree to which there was a legal strategy. Frankly, we should have 
gotten an attorney who was prepared for that kind of litigation-style 
strategy. Early on we didn't and if you go back and look at the 83 
charges, no serious charge was ever judged to be true. What I got 
hammered on was having signed a letter which was inaccurate, which was 
written not by my attorney nor by a partner in his firm, but by a new 
hire who was an assistant. Now, that's still my responsibility. I still 
failed, but in retrospect, it was a combination of bad litigation and 
not taking the entire fight seriously enough. That was an erosive 
process and the truth is, without Randy Evans having come in and having 
fired my prior attorney, I probably wouldn't have survived. The entire 
process just eroded my authority substantially.
    Last, I would say in retrospect, we should have insisted on 
celebrating. We did so many things so rapidly that we never slowed down. 
I'll give you an example: the Medicare fight. Because we never stopped 
and celebrated being the first reelected majority since 1928, the only 
majority ever elected to the House as Republicans with a Democratic 
President in American history, we never had 1 day of stopping and 
saying--this is amazing. So nobody figured out that we had won the 
argument over Medicare, and that we had run seven points ahead of Dole 
in the November 1996 elections, and that, in fact, senior citizens were 
our margin of victory. And so people felt like you lost because you're 
so badly bruised and you're so tired. That was sort of the mood that we 
had throughout a good bit of late 1996 and early 1997. Those are the 
things I would have changed. I look forward to my colleagues' comments. 
Don, as you said, it was a pretty wild ride.
    Mr. WOLFENSBERGER. Our first discussant on the Gingrich speakership 
is Leon Panetta, who is the co-director with his wife Sylvia of the 
Panetta Institute in Monterey, California. It's a non-partisan center 
dedicated to the advancement of public policy. Mr. Panetta served from 
1977 to 1993 as a Representative from the Monterey area in California. 
And then beginning in 1993, Mr. Panetta served 4 years in the Clinton 
administration, first as OMB Director, and then as White House Chief of 
Staff. On the one hand, he was spared serving in the House under a 
Republican majority; on the other hand, he was fated to deal with that 
same majority during 2 of the most turbulent years in the history of 
Presidential-congressional relations. In the House, he was known as the 
top budget expert on the Government's budget. In the White House, he 
became known as the top expert on how to keep the Government running 
without a budget. I give you Leon Panetta.
    Mr. PANETTA. Thank you very much. I also want to extend my thanks to 
the Congressional Research Service, and to the Carl Albert Center for 
having this forum on the changing nature of the speakership. There are 
obviously differences as we look at each of the Speakers who are 
reviewed today in terms of their personal relationships with Members, as 
well as their leadership styles. And I think it helps us define the 
place in history for each of them. When it comes to my friend Newt 
Gingrich, I don't think there's any question that, of the four Speakers, 
he represents the more controversial figure, because of both the 
personal and leadership styles that he brought to the speakership.
    Let me preface my remarks by saying that I had the opportunity to 
serve with Newt as a colleague in the House, and developed a friendship 
with him during that time. I then had the opportunity, obviously, to 
work with him when I became Chief of Staff to President Clinton. We 
began a series of efforts to try to negotiate various issues.
    Incidentally, if you all want to feel insignificant, you want to sit 
in a room where Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton are having a 
conversation. These are two individuals who are extremely bright, well-
read, full of ideas, and full of enthusiasm about how to resolve issues. 
If you listened to the both of them, there was no question in your mind 
that they could solve any issue in the world. What was interesting is 
that they came to basically oppose each other on most issues that they 
dealt with. But it was interesting.
    Part of the reason I term his speakership controversial is because 
it became a conflict between the role of the Speaker as leader of his 
party, and the role of the Speaker as leader of the House dealing with 
individual Members and also the Speaker as leader of the Nation. I think 
he was without question a successful leader of his party. His ability to 
be able to pull the party together, to consolidate the political power 
that was important to obtain the majority, and the fact that he put 
together a very effective agenda that became the platform for the 
Republican Party--this was an exceptional achievement. He, in effect, 
created a revolution in politics. But the challenge was also how to 
convert that revolution into effective policymaking on a continuing 
basis to help govern the Nation. And that's where I think the 
distinction has to be made.
    In academic terms, for those of you who are academics, let me refer 
you to James MacGregor Burns' book on leadership, in which he talks 
about transformational leadership, and what's called transactional 
leadership. Transformational leadership is leadership that tries to 
attract people by offering a higher purpose, a higher calling. It goes 
beyond simply cutting deals. On the other hand, the transactional leader 
is a person who provides rewards or penalties for compliance. And 
generally, if you want to be Speaker, it probably involves using both of 
those capabilities. There was no question that Newt Gingrich wanted to 
be a transformational leader. He wanted to be a Disraeli, a Wellington, 
a Churchill, a Jack Welch. He tried to inspire Members and push them to 
a higher calling, to a higher standard, that went beyond just simply 
cutting deals, and basically serving their own interests. He tried to 
rise to a higher calling with regards to the party and the agenda of the 
party. But the problem is that a Speaker is not a CEO. A Speaker is not 
a general. And a Speaker is not a Prime Minister. You can't take the 
parliamentary model and try to apply it to a branch of government that 
is based on the separation-of-powers approach to governing.
    The House of Representatives, as has been pointed out time and time 
again during this forum, is a unique legislative body. It's a unique 
institution in which each Member is autonomous and independent; in which 
Members basically try to ensure their survival through their own 
election and through responding to their constituency. That's the nature 
of a House of Representatives. So, you're not going to get Members to 
take the hill unless they're convinced that in the end it's in their 
interests to take the hill. The point is, if you're going to be a 
visionary or a transformational leader in the House, and if you really 
want to transform both the House and the country, which I believe Newt 
Gingrich was trying to do, then you damn well had better make the right 
decisions. And beyond that, you had better be able to adapt to changing 
circumstances, or else you're going to lose the support of your Members. 
The force of your personality is simply not enough in itself. There has 
to be a pragmatic side to that leadership as well.
    There's no question that Newt had great successes as the leader of 
his party--the first GOP majority in 40 years. That is a significant 
achievement for an individual, to nationalize the congressional 
elections. This is really one of the first times, instead of every 
Member fighting on his own in his district, where Newt broadly 
nationalized elections with the Contract with America. Moreover, he 
brought all of those items in the Contract with America to a vote within 
the first 100 days, which is also a significant achievement. He did 
implement reforms. He cut the number of committees. He implemented term 
limits. He got rid of proxy voting. He also accomplished some 
significant legislation like welfare reform, the freedom to farm bill, 
the telecommunications bill, and the line item veto. He pushed for a 
balanced budget. Which leads one to ask, ``Where the hell are you now, 
when we need you, Newt?'' [Laughter.]
    So he clearly achieved some successes. But if you're going to have a 
high profile, if you're going to be a high-profile charismatic leader, 
the transformational-type of leader in a legislative body, you have to 
be careful that you don't make some big mistakes. I think the problem 
was that he made some mistakes that began to erode the support that he 
needed from his own Members.
    What were some of those mistakes? I guess they're obvious to all of 
us. First of all were the shutdowns that took place in 1995 and 1996. I 
mean, clearly, when you're going to impact the citizens of this country, 
either through an inconvenience or through a reduction or a temporary 
loss of benefits, you're going to suffer a blow. I remember Bob Dole, 
when we were sitting in the Oval Office, talking about the fact that we 
really shouldn't be in a shutdown. Bob Dole said, ``You know, in my 
experience, you can probably shut the Government down over the weekend, 
but if you shut it down for any longer period of time, people are going 
to come looking for you.'' And he was right. I think Bob Dole understood 
that it would be a mistake to do that. Frankly, my own view, I think 
Newt Gingrich understood this point as well. But the problem was that he 
had created a revolution within his own Members, with the sense they 
would wholeheartedly fight for everything they were trying to achieve. 
And that led to an almost impossible situation in that the strong 
ideological constituency that he had created in the House made it 
impossible for him to be able to compromise. We were probably very close 
to compromising at one point. But for whatever reason, it just could not 
happen. And that, of course, led to the shutdown.
    In addition, I think the disaster relief he asked for--disaster 
relief, flood relief, for the Midwest--was important, but it had a 
couple of amendments attached to it by the Republicans, and was 
ultimately vetoed by the President. I think the Republicans were 
basically blamed again for preventing disaster relief because of those 
amendments. I think that was a tactical mistake.
    Obviously, the handling of President Clinton's impeachment, which 
created the impression of being more partisan than balanced, and the 
Speaker's own ethics violation, continued to erode his status. 
Ultimately what happened is that he became in a very real way a campaign 
liability. He was polling badly in the country as a result of that. If 
you're a charismatic leader you can't afford to poll badly in the 
country. So the consequence was like all revolutions: in the end, 
Members turned on their own leader and moved him out of the speakership.
    Let me just reiterate that the speakership of Newt Gingrich, as I 
defined it, was controversial and it perhaps may go down in history as 
one of those that was the most controversial. As a result, there is a 
profound lesson, I think, to be gained from that speakership. There is 
no question that you can be a strong charismatic leader of the party, 
and there have been strong charismatic leaders within the House of 
Representatives. But at the same time, if you're going to be a leader of 
the House, you have to stay in touch with your Members. You have to 
respond to their needs. You've got to listen to them. You've got to 
compromise when necessary in order to govern. And you always have to be 
willing to change with the needs of the Nation, to adapt to changing 
circumstances, even if that involves compromising an ideology. I think 
that's the difference between success and failure; and I think that is 
perhaps the profound lesson of the Gingrich speakership. Thank you.
    Mr. WOLFENSBERGER. Our second discussant on the Gingrich speakership 
is Bob Walker, who is chairman of Wexler and Walker Public Policy 
Associates here in Washington. Many of you remember him, though, as a 
10-term Pennsylvania Congressman from 1977 to 1997, a ubiquitous floor 
presence in the House, and a top Republican strategist, tactician, and 
parliamentary guru over most of those years. As someone who worked 
closely with Bob Walker and the Republican leadership on various 
procedural matters, I often wondered where he got his kinetic energy. I 
stopped wondering after I once sat down with him for breakfast in the 
Rayburn cafeteria, and his breakfast of chocolate milk, a chocolate-
covered donut, and a half-grapefruit covered with sugar. Now you know 
the secret of what it is that makes the ``Energizer Walker'' run. 
Congressman Bob Walker.
    Mr. WALKER. My staff always said they knew it was going to be a bad 
day when I had two chocolate donuts. Newt has done a pretty good job of 
walking through how we got to where we were in 1994 when we took over 
the House. But it seems to me that when we got there, we discovered a 
few things about ourselves that speak to the issues that Newt faced 
inside his speakership.
    The main lesson that we learned very quickly was that governing is 
hard. When we had been in the minority, we never had any responsibility 
to do any governing. We had fought the good fights, we had charged up 
the hill every day, we had gotten bloody fighting with our flags flying, 
and so on. We would come down off the hill if we lost, but we felt 
really good about it because we had fought glorious battles. All of a 
sudden, we found ourselves in a position where we actually had to 
govern, where it did require compromise, where it did require a lot of 
work with individual Members. And at the end of the day you got part way 
to where you wanted to go. You won, but you didn't feel really good 
about it.
    It was going through that transition in the majority that for 
everybody was a huge learning experience. And Newt was in the position 
of having to work through that. He was in the position of having to work 
with a number of things that we had set up in advance very consciously. 
The Contract with America was a political document and a governing 
document. How much of a governing document became very clear to us on 
one of the opening days when we had come back to Washington after the 
elections were over. We were faced with all of the freshmen who had been 
elected, who came in and said very clearly to the people who were going 
to be in the leadership, ``We're going to do the Contract, right?''
    You know, they had internalized this to the point that there was no 
changing anything that was in the document. They were determined to 
ensure that it was the direction that the leadership was going to go. 
And that was a positive thing from the standpoint of our being able to 
do an agenda right at the beginning of the 104th Congress. Remember, we 
had also committed to do that agenda within 100 days. While the 100 days 
was an arbitrary figure that we thought had great political saliency, 
when it came to actually accomplishing it, it was a major slog through 
the legislative process, because you had the rules of the House to 
contend with, such as layover requirements and a number of different 
procedural things that you had to be aware of.
    What it meant was that you had to have a lot of direction from the 
top. And Newt did use his leadership to help implement the agenda. The 
fact is that committee chairmen learned from the very earliest days of 
the Gingrich speakership that they were taking orders from the Speaker's 
Office, and that we were going to go through this agenda. It was going 
to get done in a way that reflected exactly what we had put in the 
Contract with America. That seems to me to be something that then played 
itself out in a variety of ways throughout the speakership.
    From then on, people who ended up with problems inside their 
committee structure as they dealt with issues felt that they could come 
to the Speaker because, after all, the Speaker had in the earliest days 
forced the agenda through. So we were constantly in some of those 
committee battles. The chairmen were also faced with a new situation 
where we had term-limited them. They did not have long-term prospects in 
the job. Their power was somewhat diminished by the fact that they were 
only going to be there a short period of time. It seems to me that the 
100-day agenda was a very important part of shaping the way the 
speakership evolved in the years ahead.
    There's another thing that has not been discussed here that I think 
needs to be recognized about Newt's speakership. There was a great 
technology focus in it. Dr. Billington made mention here a little while 
ago of the fact that Newt in the earliest days, as a personal crusade, 
created the THOMAS computer system for the House of Representatives. For 
the first time, it brought online all of the documents of the House of 
Representatives for the public to have easy access to and to learn what 
was actually going on inside the Congress. It was Gingrich's recognition 
that we had entered a new technological era in this country, and that 
Congress needed to be a part of it. I believe that it is a technology 
revolution that continues today.
    It has certainly changed the shape of those of us who are lobbying 
in town. It used to be that one of the things that a lobbyist could 
produce was the documents out of the House of Representatives. Only 
lobbyists could easily get them because they went to the House document 
rooms for their clients out across the country. Now the clients can get 
the documents simply by going online.
    Speaker Gingrich also was focused on science and technology as a 
broad general subject. The whole business of doubling the budgets of NIH 
grew out of a relationship between Newt and John Porter on the need to 
have amounts of money flowing into some of these technology areas that 
were so important. Technology also was frustrating for him because that 
was a part of the agenda for which the Republican conference was not 
completely on board.
    I remember going out to the Xerox center outside of town just after 
we had completed the 100-day agenda, and Newt was determined to have us 
adopt a new agenda to move forward. Part of that agenda was to make the 
Republican Party into the leadership party of the information age. Newt 
had drafted some concepts for the conference to consider and ultimately 
adopt that would move us in that direction. When we got to the Xerox 
center and broke into groups to discuss these various agenda items, 
Members took a look at some of the things that were supposed to take us 
into the information age. I remember one committee chairman--where I 
walked into the room to listen--who described the discussion as 
``psychobabble.'' That was probably one of the kindest things that was 
said about these discussions. By the time we got back into the general 
session, this was a portion of the agenda that was just written off. I 
remember Newt, following the meeting, being very discouraged because it 
was clear that the conference participants simply didn't understand 
where we were headed at that point in the economy and how we could be 
leaders in that arena.
    Another thing, as I reflect on this, that seemed to me to be a 
shaper of the Gingrich speakership was the fact that we had a number of 
people in the freshman class who arrived in 1994 who were ``self'' term-
limited. They had decided on their own that they were only going to be 
here for a short period of time. Those folks became people inside the 
conference who resisted whenever we attempted to make long-term deals 
and look down the road a long way. They were there for a very short 
period of time. They wanted to get things done now, or they wanted to 
stop things from being done now. Interestingly enough, it was a number 
of those people who ended up being at the base of the revolt that took 
place against Newt's leadership later on.
    Newt's operational style was often not understood by a lot of 
people. It was to empower folks to go out and do things with regard to 
issues that came up. If a young Member of Congress came to the Speaker 
and said, ``You know, I'd like to do something about this issue.'' 
Newt's tendency was to say ``yes'' and empower them to go do it. The 
problem with that was, for a number of us who were part of his 
leadership team, we almost immediately got a call from a committee 
chairman or a subcommittee chairman who didn't realize that this 
responsibility had now been given to some freshman Member of Congress. 
The chairman was outraged by the fact that this person had seemingly 
been empowered by the Speaker. So there were a number of us in the 
leadership team and on Newt's staff who would have to go to the freshman 
and say, ``You may not have understood exactly what the Speaker was 
saying.'' We would try to work out some of these arrangements.
    Certainly, part of the problem that Newt ultimately ran into were 
the dozens of ethics charges that were filed against him. The ongoing 
issues there stem from the fact that many people in the opposition 
party, in the Democratic Party, never really got over their anger about 
the confrontational tactics that had been used in order to take the 
majority. That made it very difficult to work with the Democratic 
leadership. And it may have been partially work that we didn't do very 
well. Additionally, many in the Democratic leadership didn't work very 
hard at forging a relationship. That reality really led to much of the 
decision of the Republicans that we had to go it alone. No matter how 
narrow our majority we had to do it on our own, and it was a way of 
shaping policy throughout the Gingrich speakership.
    I must say that working with President Clinton was different, and 
Leon Panetta has somewhat characterized this relationship. Newt and 
President Clinton did have this ability to talk to each other, because 
they were both policy wonks. Yet there was no end of frustration on our 
end of Pennsylvania Avenue when Newt and the President would get 
together and talk about something, and Newt would come up to explain 
this great deal he had just cut. Somebody in the leadership would say, 
``Newt, we can't do that!'' And then there would have to be more 
discussions that followed our meetings. I believe that there was an 
understanding that we could, through that relationship, forge some 
legislative packages. As has been mentioned, there were some things that 
were done, such as the welfare reform package that ultimately was a 
major change of direction in American policy.
    I have a somewhat different view of the Government shutdown than 
Leon's. I think that most of us felt as though that was very successful. 
It would have been a disaster had it led to us not being able to retain 
the majority in 1996. The fact was that we were able to retain our 
majority despite having gone through the shutdowns. Many of us have felt 
that the shutdowns convinced a lot of the markets that there was a 
serious effort under way to balance the budget. It wasn't just rhetoric 
anymore. There was, in fact, a serious effort under way. A lot of the 
growth that happened in the economy after that really resulted from the 
willingness of the Republicans to take the political heat that came with 
the government shutdowns.
    Let me just sum up here. There are a half a dozen things that I 
would say are probably the legacy of the Gingrich speakership. First, it 
seems to me that his speakership affirmed the national Republican 
political ascendancy. Up until then there had been a lot of feeling that 
the Republican Party was basically a party where a personality, Ronald 
Reagan, had managed to bring us to a status that gave us a fighting 
chance in politics. With the speakership of Newt, and the ability to win 
successive elections after 1994, it certainly affirmed our political 
    Second, his legacy should certainly include that he moved the House 
of Representatives into the modern technology era. Third, it seems to me 
that his speakership also changed the relationship between the Speaker 
and committee chairmen. Clearly, there is a much different relationship 
that continues to this day. Fourth, the speakership of Newt Gingrich and 
the way in which the Republican majority approached legislation assured 
the long-term vibrancy of Reaganism. We took much of the Reagan agenda 
and assured that it was what we were enacting as a result of our work in 
the Congress. Fifth, it seems to me that the Gingrich speakership 
created a positive visionary platform for dealing with national issues 
from a conservative base. In large part, that kind of visionary outlook 
resulted in our ability to keep a majority in the House over a long 
    Finally, sixth, it seems to me that what the Gingrich speakership 
also did was change the nature of the political dialog in the country. 
Up until then we had debated the issues largely from the standpoint of 
liberal rhetoric. We changed a lot of that rhetoric. Just the idea that 
we went from discussing how long we were going to have large deficits to 
the fact that we could actually have a balanced budget was a tremendous 
change in rhetoric. Despite the fact that we're having trouble keeping 
those balanced budgets today, we still talk in terms of balanced budgets 
in ways different than we did before. That's my view. Thanks.
    Mr. WOLFENSBERGER. Because we did get a late start, I've been 
authorized by the organizers to go a little late in this, so we can 
allow for some questions. But what I'd like to do is first of all give 
Newt a couple of minutes to make some comments on what was said since he 
last spoke, and also if Mr. Panetta would like to do so as well. Mr. 
Panetta will probably have to leave before our question period is over 
to catch a plane. So I want to make sure he has an opportunity for a 
last word as well. Newt.
    Speaker GINGRICH. First of all, just a couple of quick observations. 
I think there are two grounds for focusing on my speakership. The first 
is that it was actually a team effort all the way through. You can't 
describe my rise without talking about the Congressional Campaign 
Committee, Guy Vander Jagt, Joe Gaylord, and others. You can't describe 
our rise in the House without mentioning the Conservative Opportunity 
Society and people like Bob Walker and Vin Weber and Connie Mack and 
others. You can't describe how we ran the Contract with America without 
looking at the extraordinary role Dick Armey played. And you can't look 
at how we ran the House in the first couple of months without looking at 
Armey and Walker and DeLay. Finally, you can't describe balancing the 
budget without including Kasich and Livingston and Archer. So there was 
an extensive team process. I was the central executor and I had very 
substantial power, but it was as the leader of a collectivity. It wasn't 
just me and then you drop down 100 feet to the next person. The team 
concept was a very conscious design.
    Second, because of the separation of powers that Leon pointed out, I 
believe it is a mistake to see 1994 in isolation, and Bob Walker came 
closer to the right model--which is, Reagan in 1980 brings us back from 
a distinct minority party status to being competitive. We, I think, 
helped get ourselves to parity, recognizing that much of the Contract 
was in fact standing on Ronald Reagan's shoulders. Bush now has to see 
whether or not he can move beyond parity to majority.
    You can go back to earlier studies of American politics in the 19th 
century. There are three things to think about in terms of what I tried 
to accomplish: the political, the policy, and the personal. The first 
thing, and I wrote down what Leon said because I thought he caught it 
right, although he and I probably will disagree on it. He said, 
``effective policymaking on a continuing basis to help govern.'' This is 
the 9th year of a Republican majority in the House. The last time we 
were in the 9th year of a Republican majority in the House was 1927. So 
at a political level, it's pretty hard to argue that we weren't 
successful. Just as a fact.
    Second, on policy grounds, look at welfare reform, balancing the 
budget, reforming the FDA, strengthening the National Institutes of 
Health, increasing the Central Intelligence Agency's budget, cutting 
taxes. It's hard not to say that those 4 years were fairly substantial 
at a policy level.
    And the third is personal. Here I'm quite happy to have people 
decide that I failed in the end because I left the House. But it's a 
little hard for me to look back and not feel success as a former Army 
brat who had no great personal wealth, no ties, and I arrived in Georgia 
courtesy of the U.S. Army at a time when it was segregated and 
Democratic. Georgia is now a State that has a Republican Governor, a 
Republican Senator, I think a soon-to-be Republican second Senate seat, 
and a majority of Republicans in the House. I arrived in Washington when 
we were in our 24th year of being in the minority. We're now in our 9th 
year of being in the majority. I got to have a dinosaur in the Dinosaur 
Room, as Denny Hastert reminded me today. What's to feel bad about? This 
was an enormously successful run that changed the House, changed the 
Republican Party, and marginally changed the country.
    In the end, I don't think you can be that aggressively 
entrepreneurial in Washington in the speakership and sustain it very 
long. So you either have to decide, ``I really want to get all of these 
things done and then I'll have to go do something else for a while,'' or 
you have to decide, ``I'd rather stay around here and get a lot less 
done.'' I don't think there's a game in the middle between those two 
styles. Most successful Speakers don't try to do as many different 
things, and they're right. But we had a very unique brief window to 
really change things.
    Last, I agree totally with Leon about the disaster relief fiasco in 
1997. That was one of the reasons we ended up with my leadership in 
rebellion. I thought it was crazy for us to be in the fight. It was a 
moment of saying, ``You know how good Bill Clinton is at this stuff, why 
are you putting your head up so he can just beat on you for three 
hours?'' I couldn't agree more. That's one of the places I failed. I 
failed in part because by then there were too many things going on and 
too many moving parts, which is the weakness of a centralized leadership 
in the House.
    The shutdown, though, is really important for sophisticated people 
to look at for a long time. Livingston and Kasich have both told me in 
the last year they are absolutely convinced we wouldn't have gotten to a 
balanced budget without the shutdown. They see it as shock therapy. But 
there's a key mantra, which is, ``We lost.'' I want all of you to think 
about this. We were the first reelected majority since 1928. We are the 
only majority ever reelected with a Democratic President winning the 
national election in 1996. What is it we lost? People say, ``Oh, that 
was a terrible period, and we lost.'' But what did we lose? We had a 
running brawl 9 months before the election. We proved that we were 
really deadly serious about solving our Nation's problems. Leon has his 
version, and mine is a totally different discussion. We have to get Bob 
Livingston to come in some time and do an entire session on whether the 
shutdown was a mistake. I think you would have Leon on one side and you 
would have Kasich and Livingston on the other side.
    I would just say that as a professional designer of campaigns, the 
shutdown did not cost us anything except in the press corps and in this 
city and at cocktail parties. It didn't cost us anything in the country. 
In the end, we were able to win election in a way that nobody had done 
since 1928. We didn't feel good about it, so people tend to undervalue 
the sheer fact that it's still Speaker Hastert.
    Mr. PANETTA. Well, I guess I would just caution that the fact of 
simply holding power in and of itself is not necessarily an indication 
that you're governing the country. Democrats made the mistake of 
basically assuming that because we held power, that somehow we didn't 
have to deliver in terms of governing the country. I've often said that 
we govern in our democracy either through leadership or crisis. 
Leadership that's willing to compromise and willing to find solutions is 
the most effective way of governing this country, in order to avoid 
crisis. But I think if you look at the last few years, we are a Nation 
that more and more governs by crisis, as opposed to leadership. Crisis 
drives policy. It drives energy policy. You've got to have the lights 
shut down in order for the country to respond to the energy problem. On 
budget issues, there's always the threat of some kind of shutdown or 
forcing Members to stay beyond an adjournment date to pass 
appropriations bills in this place. The same thing is true on health 
care. The same thing is true for Social Security. The same thing is true 
for Medicare. Ultimately, we are doing more and more as a result of 
crisis driving policy. Now, whether we're Democrats or Republicans, I 
think that's a reality. And let me add, the public may for a period of 
time basically allow that kind of gridlock to proceed. But, as the 
California example demonstrates, there is a point at which angry and 
frustrated people are going to take their vote out on leaders who are in 
office. If there's any lesson you should take away from the California 
recall experience, it's that incumbents ought not to feel too 
comfortable about where they are at the present time. I think there is 
an angry and frustrated public out there, that at some point may do 
exactly what happened in 1994, which is to change the leadership because 
they are frustrated with the fact that we are doing more by crisis than 
by leadership.
    Mr. WOLFENSBERGER. I think we have time for one question.
    Question. In what way did your view of the speakership change during 
your tenure?
    Speaker GINGRICH. Virtually none. My view was that we had to be very 
different than traditional speakerships. My assumption was that we would 
be faced with overwhelming resources against us from the White House, 
large parts of the media, and the capacity to raise money from interest 
groups who would be threatened by changing government and changing 
priorities. Leon mentioned Wellington, and Wellington is one of the 
leaders I looked at because I expected to be in a peninsular kind of 
campaign where the other side had more resources. We had to be very sure 
we were focused on what it took to win. And my models were actually not 
so much prior speakerships, although I understood a fair amount about 
people like Tom Reed and Henry Clay and Cannon and Rayburn. My models 
were much more how do you organize people to be effective in a situation 
of enormous pressure where you're trying to get things done? In that 
sense, I do accept Leon's point that I tended to take as models Alfred 
Sloan of General Motors or George Catlett Marshall in the Second World 
War or a Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I was trying to find ways to be able 
to rally our people to do the things we wanted to do.
    Mr. WOLFENSBERGER. I'm now going to call on CRS Director Dan 
Mulhollan to make a few closing remarks, but please join me in thanking 
our panel for doing an outstanding job.
    Mr. MULHOLLAN. This closes our session. I want to thank everyone who 
participated in this important conference and everyone who attended the 
various sessions. One of the things it underscores is that each one of 
you being here indicates an interest, a caring about the institution of 
the U.S. Congress, and for that we are quite grateful. I must also add 
that, in order for this event to take place, a lot of people worked very 
hard. I wanted to mention Justin Paulhamus, Karen Wirt, Jill Ziegler, 
and Robert Newlen of CRS who worked to make the conference a success. 
Another CRS person merits special mention because he had the idea for 
the conference and carried it out in a highly successful manner. He is 
Walter Oleszek, my colleague and friend for over three decades, and we 
should thank him for his initiative and efforts.


                                 Part II

                           Perspectives on the


      Four Speakers, Cannon Centenary Conference, November 12, 2003
                                Chapter 1

                The Speakership in Historical Perspective

                          Ronald M. Peters, Jr.

     Regents' Professor, Carl Albert Research and Studies Center and

         Department of Political Science, University of Oklahoma

  Just over 100 years ago, on November 9, 1903, the Honorable Joseph 
Gurney Cannon, a Republican from Illinois, was sworn in as the 34th 
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. ``Uncle Joe'' Cannon 
became, perhaps, the most powerful Speaker in the history of that 
office, exercising almost complete control over the legislative process, 
dominating the committee system, often determining the content of 
legislation, and standing toe to toe with Republican Presidents Theodore 
Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Cannon was a colorful figure, earthy 
in appearance, demeanor, and sense of humor. He was the most prominent 
legislator of his day and perhaps, at that time, the only Member of 
Congress to gain extensive public recognition. In fact, his power in the 
House of Representatives became increasingly controversial until 
finally, on St. Patrick's Day 1910, the Members of the House rebelled 
against him, stripping him of control over the Rules Committee and 
putting the party regime that had evolved since the Civil War on the 
path of extinction.
  The speakership of the House had not always been so powerful an office 
nor such a pure expression of party interest as Cannon made it. During 
the formative years of the Republic, the political party system was in 
flux, and House Speakers were not usually cast in the role of national 
party leaders. Henry Clay of Kentucky, the most important Speaker of the 
antebellum period, was indeed a partisan figure; but his influence 
extended beyond the circle of his partisan supporters and as a national 
figure he, in effect, transcended the offices that he held. Other 
antebellum Speakers were less noteworthy. It was not until after the 
Civil War, with the rise of the stable, two-party system that we have 
known since, that the speakership became defined as a position of party 
responsibility. This development sharpened the fundamental tension 
between the Speaker's partisan and institutional roles that is latent in 
the constitutional design. From 1865 until the turn of the 20th century, 
the political parties became more entrenched and the speakership became 
an increasingly important position of party governance. Several Speakers 
during this period became powerful political leaders. These included 
Republicans James G. Blaine of Maine, Thomas B. Reed of Maine, and 
Cannon himself, and Democrats such as Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania, 
John G. Carlisle of Kentucky, and Charles F. Crisp of Georgia. Clearly, 
however, Cannon was the most powerful of them all, and his speakership 
represented the apotheosis of the office. Cannon came to the speakership 
just as that office reached its zenith under the rules of the House and 
of the Republican conference. The Speaker controlled floor recognition, 
named the members of committees, chaired the Rules Committee, determined 
referral of bills to committees, and controlled the floor agenda. 
Speaker Cannon's power was made emblematic by one disgruntled GOP 
progressive Member who, when asked by a constituent for a copy of the 
rules of the House, sent a picture of the Speaker.
  Today, we remember Cannon as the Czar of the House, and the office 
building that bears his name is a monument to his power. It is equally 
important to remember, though, that Cannon's speakership witnessed the 
peak of the Speaker's powers and the beginning of their decline. The St. 
Patrick's Day revolt of 1910 stripped the Speaker of his control over 
the Rules Committee and led to the defeat of the Republican Party and of 
Cannon himself in the 1912 elections. Cannon was reelected in 1914 and 
the Republicans recaptured their House majority in the election of 1918. 
The speakership, however, was never again as powerful as it had been 
under Cannon. It is ironic that the building that bears Cannon's name 
was emblematic of an institutional shift that would, over time, erode 
the power that he had enjoyed.
  When the Cannon House Office Building was completed in 1908, it was 
the first detached office building serving the U.S. House of 
Representatives, and it symbolized, and gave further effect to, an 
underlying transformation in American politics and in the House of 
Representatives. It was at or near the beginning of the era of 
``institutionalization'' of the House.\1\ The demands of legislative 
work and constituency service had created the need for each Member of 
the House to have adequate staff and appropriate office space in which 
to operate. No longer would Members have to meet with constituents in 
the halls, lobbies, hotels, and restaurants. Henceforth, Members would 
have their own space and that space would be at some distance from the 
legislative Chamber. The first step in isolating Members from each other 
was taken out of institutional necessity.

\1\ Nelson Polsby, ``The Institutionalization of the House of 
Representatives,'' American Political Science Review, v. 62, March 1968, 
pp. 144-168.

  The Cannon House Office Building opened during a period of electoral 
realignment and the attendant sharp political conflicts. Progressive 
western Republicans allied with northern and southern Democrats to 
dislodge Cannon from the Rules Committee. When the Democrats took the 
House in 1911 their Speaker, Champ Clark of Missouri, relinquished to 
Floor Leader Oscar Underwood of Alabama control over the House floor. 
Underwood experimented with government through the Democratic Caucus 
(much to the displeasure of their erstwhile allies, the progressive 
Republicans), but eventually power flowed to the committee system where 
it remained ensconced until the reform movement of the early seventies.
  The transformation of the House from a party-centered to a committee-
centered legislative body was manifested by the construction of two 
additional office buildings. The Longworth Building, named after Speaker 
Nicholas Longworth (R-OH), was completed in 1933. The Rayburn Building 
was completed in 1965 and was named in honor of the House's longest-
serving Speaker, Sam Rayburn of Texas. These buildings were monuments to 
the power of the committees. While the Cannon Building had few committee 
hearing rooms, both the Longworth and Rayburn Buildings are organized 
around them. With the exception of the Appropriations, Rules, Standards 
of Official Conduct, and Ways and Means Committees, which today occupy 
offices in the Capitol Building, all other committees established their 
operations in the detached office buildings. The party leaders occupied 
space in the Capitol. Just as the physical layout of Washington, DC, 
reflects the constitutional separation of powers, so, too, did the 
arrangement of Capitol Hill reflect the institutional divisions between 
the party leaders and the committees and their chairs.
  The influence of political party competed with that of the committee 
system under Democratic majorities from 1911 to 1918 and under 
Republican majorities from 1919 until 1930. The Democrats experimented 
with ``King Caucus'' while diminishing the role of the Speaker. The 
Republicans managed business through a small group of legislators whose 
most influential Member was Longworth. As Speaker, Longworth 
demonstrated vestiges of the power that Cannon had enjoyed, but only 
that. Beneath the surface, a trend was already underway that would alter 
the House and the speakership for generations: longevity in service was 
steadily on the rise. This trend was especially accentuated in the 
southern States dominated by Democrats. When the Democrats returned to 
power in 1931, southern Democrats were at the top of the seniority lists 
and came to chair many key committees. The Democrats were to hold power 
for all but 4 of the next 64 years, and, until the reforms of the early 
seventies, the southerners sat astride the committees and the House like 
statues on the balustrades of an ancient castle.
  I have elsewhere labeled this the ``feudal'' era in the history of the 
speakership because of the manner in which Speakers showed deference to 
the committee chairs.\2\ There were related political and institutional 
reasons for this deference. Politically, the ascendency of the 
committees and the relative decline of the speakership was the product 
of the Democratic Party and the coalition that supported it. The 
Roosevelt coalition combined voters from northern cities with the 
``solid South.'' The quid pro quo was always implicit: the South would 
provide reliable congressional majorities and the North would leave 
civil rights alone. To ensure that this political bargain stuck, 
congressional Democrats opted for seniority as an almost inviolate rule 
for advancement up the committee lists. They granted extraordinary 
powers to the committee chairs, powers that enabled them to set the 
agenda, determine committee meeting times, cast proxy votes, name the 
subcommittees, and, in effect, control legislation. The southern barons 
could block any legislation thought inimical to southern interests. The 
Rules Committee, which had been the bastion of Cannon's power, now 
functioned autonomously and often at odds with the leadership. The Ways 
and Means Committee, whose chair had formerly served as floor leader and 
deputy to the Speaker, now functioned autonomously in controlling vital 
legislation and serving as the party's Committee on Committees. The 
speakership that Cannon knew had become unrecognizably eroded.

\2\ Ronald M. Peters, Jr., The American Speakership, 2d ed. (Baltimore, 
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990 [1997]).

  This was just fine with Democratic Speakers. Their job was to preserve 
the Democrats' hold on power. This meant holding the coalition together. 
Conflict resolved or avoided in the committee rooms would not infect the 
Democratic Caucus or erupt on the House floor. It was in this context 
that Sam Rayburn became the longest-serving (and by many accounts) most 
esteemed Speaker of the House. Rayburn represented a district in a 
southern State. His obligations as a national Democrat were always in 
tension with the attitudes of his Texas constituents.\3\ Rayburn shaped 
the culture of the House of Representatives. He was both feared and 
revered by Members. Because he did not exercise active control over the 
committees, he was not held to account for their actions. At the same 
time, he was able to influence the committees when he needed to do so, 
precisely because he cultivated relationships with their chairs, his 
fellow southerners. Together, they taught a generation of new Members 
that ``to get along, go along,'' go along, that is, with Rayburn and the 
committee dons.

\3\ Anthony Champagne, Congressman Sam Rayburn (New Brunswick, N.J.: 
Rutgers University Press, 1984).

  This House of Representatives defined what political scientists later 
called the ``textbook Congress,'' replete with ``norms'' such as 
reciprocity, collegiality, deference, hard work, and, of course, 
seniority. These values were ingrained in Members and those who best 
adapted to them were the most likely to rise in the party hierarchy. 
Rayburn's socialization of the House even stretched across party lines. 
While the Republican Party always demonstrated a more centralized 
tendency than did the Democrats, their most senior Members rose on the 
committee rosters and learned that their best interests were served by 
embracing the Democratic system and working with its leadership. Rayburn 
developed a close friendship with Republican Leader Joseph Martin of 
Massachusetts, and, when Martin served as Speaker during the 80th (1947-
1949) and 83d (1953-1955) Congresses, he perpetuated many of the values 
that he had assimilated during his service in Rayburn's House. Rayburn 
held daily sessions in a room at the Capitol that was dubbed the ``Board 
of Education.'' Martin would join the Speaker in bending an elbow on 
bourbon and branch water while discussing the issues of the day. A 
generation of favored Democrats and Republicans assimilated bipartisan 
norms as they absorbed the Speaker's liquor.
  The ``textbook Congress'' did not last forever, indicating perhaps why 
textbooks always need to be revised. During the fifties, there arose 
increasing tension between the northern, liberal wing of the Democratic 
Party and the southern conservatives. The two Texans leading the 
Congress, Rayburn in the House and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. 
Johnson, were tugged to the left, Johnson by his Presidential ambitions, 
Rayburn by the increasingly restless liberals in the Democratic Caucus. 
When John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, he realized that the 
southern stranglehold on the House would frustrate many of his policies. 
In 1961, in the last great battle of his career, Sam Rayburn led a 
successful effort to enlarge the Rules Committee to give it a loyal 
majority. Thus, the path was cleared for the subsequent passage of the 
landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  After Johnson's landslide Presidential election in 1964, substantial 
liberal majorities in the House and Senate swept away southern 
opposition to enact his Great Society. Still, House liberals such as 
Richard Bolling (D-MO.) believed that the time had come to break the 
southern grip on the committee system. By the decade's end, they had 
enough votes to push through the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 
and, during the early seventies, a series of Democratic Caucus reforms 
that both strengthened the speakership and weakened the committee 
barons. The Speaker was given operating control over the Rules 
Committee. By party rule, he named the chair and the majority members of 
the committee. The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee became the 
party's Committee on Committees, and the Speaker appointed a number of 
its members. All committee chairs were to be nominated by Steering and 
Policy and ratified by the full caucus, as were the subcommittee chairs 
of the Appropriations Committee. The caucus itself met monthly, 
providing a venue for the liberal majority to express itself.
  Even as the power of the speakership was thus enhanced, that of the 
committee chairs was reduced. The Democrats pushed through a 
``subcommittee bill of rights'' that guaranteed that bills would be 
referred to the subcommittee of jurisdiction. Subcommittees were 
provided staff, budget, and jurisdiction. With a more autonomous set of 
subcommittees beneath them, and with the full caucus and its liberal 
majority hovering over them, committee chairs could no longer control 
the legislative process and dictate the content of legislation. The 
erosion of the power of the full committee chairs reached its apex in 
1975 when, led by the Watergate class of 1974, three southern committee 
chairs were deposed by the caucus. After that happened, committee chairs 
were more careful to nurture their relations with the caucus as a whole.
  The general effect of these reforms may be described in three rings. 
At the center, the party leadership, especially the Speaker, was 
empowered by these reforms. Leadership stock went up, committee chair 
stock went down. In the middle ring, power was decentralized within the 
committee system. By the late seventies, over 150 members of the 
Democratic Caucus served as subcommittee chairs. Each was granted 
considerable autonomy in managing the subcommittee's business. To 
sustain their influence, committee chairs had to negotiate relationships 
with the subcommittee chairs. Rivalries naturally developed and the 
committees became venues for bargaining and compromise. In the outer 
layer, the House floor became a more important venue. The weakened 
committee system was the subject of less deference on the floor. The 
introduction of electronic voting, in 1973, made Members more 
accountable. Televised coverage made the floor more accessible to the 
public. Issues that might once have been resolved behind the closed 
doors of the committee rooms were now settled in open floor fights. And 
the floor was leadership territory.
  Thus, the modern speakership was to operate in a very different 
legislative milieu than at any time in the history of the House. During 
the late 19th century, the Speaker was able to dominate the House. 
During most of the 20th century, the committee barons were in control. 
During the last three decades of the 20th century, the decentralization 
of power created the need for other control mechanisms. Under these 
circumstances, more power was given to the Speaker, but more was 
expected of him as well. Thrust onto center stage, House Speakers became 
more pivotal and more vulnerable. Members had higher expectations; 
political opponents had greater incentive and opportunity to cause 
  Political scientists have written for a long time now about the 
``post-reform House.'' The term remains useful in differentiating the 
transition away from the committee-centered regime of the textbook 
Congress. By now, however, it may obscure more than it reveals. It has 
not been the reforms alone that have altered the context of the modern 
speakership. An underlying realignment has reshaped the political 
landscape that gives definition to institutional processes. The most 
obvious manifestation of this realignment is the fact that in 1994 the 
Republicans won control of the House for the first time in 40 years. As 
early as 1968, pundits had been anticipating a rightward drift in 
American politics.\4\ Barry Goldwater had prophesied it and Ronald 
Reagan had pressed it forward. Newt Gingrich completed it. The linchpin 
of this realignment has been the transition of the South from Democratic 
to Republican control. This process began with the passage of the Civil 
Rights Act of 1964, which drove many southern, white Democrats into the 
camp of the Republicans. This development has led us to where we are 
today. Richard Nixon carried a substantial percentage of the black vote 
in 1960. More Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act than 
Republicans. The Republican decision to seek the votes of southern 
whites had its intended effect, swinging a majority of southern 
congressional districts, Senate seats, and electoral votes to the GOP; 
but it has cost them dearly among black voters who now vote 95 percent 
for the Democrats. This racial and regional polarization meshes with 
religion and other cultural variables to shape the present narrow 
political division in the country.

\4\ Kevin Phillips, The Emerging Republican Majority (New Rochelle, NY: 
Arlington House, 1969); Richard M. Scammon and Ben J. Wattenberg, The 
Real Majority (New York: Coward-McCann, 1970).

  The parity between the two parties shapes the political and 
institutional context of the speakership today. The reformed House had 
one set of consequences when it was run by entrenched Democrats holding 
a comfortable majority of seats most of the time. It runs differently 
when run by a narrow Republican majority determined to hold on to power 
in a protracted war for control of the House. For example, the 
relationship between the party leadership and the committees is 
fundamentally different under the Republicans than it had been under the 
Democrats. The Democratic committee chairs saw their power eroded, but 
were never dominated by the party leaders. Even when several committee 
chairs were deposed by the Democratic Caucus, the initiative came from 
within the caucus and the leadership supported the chairs. The 
Republicans have simply bypassed several senior Members as committee or 
subcommittee chairs, and have punished deviating Members by denying them 
chairs to which their seniority would have entitled them. Thus, if the 
reformed House is different from the pre-reformed House, the Republican 
House is different from the Democratic House. No matter which party is 
in the majority, the narrow division that has been in place between the 
two parties since 1995 has shaped the legislative environment in ways 
that the reformers of the early seventies could not have anticipated.
  One manifestation of this new environment is the upheaval that the 
speakership has experienced in the past 15 years. Almost a century ago, 
Uncle Joe Cannon was stripped of much of his power, defeated for 
reelection and, upon being reelected, reduced to the role of elder 
statesman within the Republican conference. During the 20th century, the 
speakership has witnessed great stability, even as its stature was in 
many ways diminished in relationship to the committee system. The reform 
movement and the development of partisan struggle for control of the 
House have created a more politicized environment than any since 
Cannon's time. This has taken a toll on the speakership. One Speaker 
resigned from office, a second was defeated for reelection, and a third 
declined to seek another term in office. These events say as much about 
the contemporary climate of American politics as they do about the 
individual Speakers.
  This inquiry into the speakership today, then, comes at a critical 
moment in the history of that office. This volume presents a variety of 
perspectives on the changing speakership. Part I provides the 
proceedings of the Cannon Centenary Conference on ``The Changing Nature 
of the Speakership,'' co-sponsored by the Congressional Research Service 
and the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center of the 
University of Oklahoma. (Funding for the conference was also provided by 
the McCormick Tribune Foundation.) The conference addressed in detail 
the speakerships of: Thomas P. ``Tip'' O'Neill (D-MA; 1977-1987); Jim 
Wright (D-TX; 1987-1989); Tom Foley (D-WA, 1989-1993); and Newt Gingrich 
(R-GA; 1995-1999). In examining each speakership, the book offers a 
statement by the Speaker himself (or, in the case of the late Speaker 
O'Neill, by his biographer, John Farrell) along with commentary from 
Democratic and Republican Members who served with that Speaker. 
Additional insight is provided by noted historian Robert Remini, who 
traces the broad path of the speakership's evolution. Of particular note 
is the contribution of Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL; 1999-  ) who offers 
his most definitive statement on the speakership and his conduct of it 
to date.
  Part II provides additional depth of analysis in chapters arrayed 
topically. Prepared by political scientists and congressional 
specialists at the Congressional Research Service, these chapters offer 
an analytic perspective on the speakership. In Chapter 2, Walter Oleszek 
and Richard C. Sachs examine the impact of three Speakers--Reed, Cannon, 
and Gingrich--on the rules of the House. They argue that these three 
Speakers were distinctive in their proactive efforts to implement a 
fundamentally new institutional order in the House. Their account 
reminds us that Speakers are not entirely hostage to circumstance, and 
that exceptional Speakers have been able to bring about important 
institutional changes.
  Chapter 3, by Christopher Davis, surveys the history of the House 
Rules Committee and the relationships of House Speakers to it. During 
the partisan era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Rules 
Committee served as a reliable arm of the majority party leadership, and 
Speakers such as Reed and Cannon used control over the committee to push 
party legislation. With the rise of the conservative coalition in the 
late thirties, the Rules Committee assumed considerable independence, 
and became an impediment to legislation pushed by the liberal Democratic 
majority. Since the reform movement of the early seventies, Houses 
Speakers have once again taken control of the Rules Committee. The 
Republicans, who complained bitterly about the tyrannical dictates of 
the committee when in the minority have, Davis finds, been as assertive 
as the Democrats in using their control over Rules to structure floor 
debate and to shape legislation brought to the floor.
  In Chapter 4, Elizabeth Rybicki traces the relationship between the 
Speaker of the House and the leadership of the Senate. She identifies 
the key differences between the two bodies that structure this 
relationship, and examines how the role of the Speaker in bicameral 
coordination has become more challenging in the modern era. Of 
particular interest is her description of the mechanics of bicameral 
relations. Among these are the legislative conferences through which the 
two Chambers reach agreement on the final language of bills.
  Of increasing importance has been the relationship between the Speaker 
and the press, addressed by Betsy Palmer in Chapter 5. Her account 
stresses the changing relationship between House Speakers and the media, 
affected by the historical and partisan context, the personalities of 
individual Speakers, and evolving media technologies. During most of 
American history to date, Speakers had informal and sometimes personal 
relationships with a core group of press corps veterans. With the 
emergence of broadcast television, cable television, and Internet 
technologies, Speakers have had to develop more sophisticated media 
strategies to counter those of the President, Senators, and other House 
Members. The decision to open House proceedings to broader media 
coverage has changed the political environment. The increasing 
partisanship we see today echoes that of a century ago, but the 
relationship between the Speaker and the media is greatly different 
today than it was then.
  There has been no more important relationship for House Speakers than 
that which they have encountered with Presidents of the United States. 
In Chapter 6, Eric Petersen provides a template for understanding the 
Speaker-President nexus by considering the relationship between Speaker 
Cannon and President Theodore Roosevelt, on the one hand, and Speaker 
Rayburn and President Franklin Roosevelt on the other hand. In the 
former case, despite Theodore Roosevelt's efforts to court Cannon, the 
relationship was at times strained, as Speaker Cannon often disdained 
the legislative initiatives of the President. Forty years later, Speaker 
Rayburn was a pillar of support for Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and 
wartime policies. In each case, however, the Speaker's relationship to 
the President was shaped by the needs and expectation of the Members of 
the House.
  Chapter 7 elaborates on the relationship between Speakers and 
Presidents by considering that relationship in the context of national 
emergencies: the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, and World 
War II. In it, Harold Relyea argues that times of national emergency 
affect the role of the Speaker and the relationship of the speakership 
to the Presidency. In our system of separated institutions sharing 
powers, the Presidency naturally emerges during times of national 
crisis. The Congress, in general, and the speakership, in particular, 
tends to defer to Presidential leadership. This may take the form of 
passing Presidential legislation or in acquiescing to Presidential 
actions. In such times, House Speakers tend to be supportive of Chief 
Executives. Still, relationships between Speakers and Presidents during 
national emergencies have varied due to personality, partisanship, 
ideology, institutional stature, and statesmanship.
  In the book's final chapter, I provide an overview of the many changes 
the speakership has experienced and offer a reflection on its role in 
the House today. This discussion echoes many of the specific themes 
developed by the other authors. In particular, it reinforces the 
perspective that the speakership has evolved over time according to 
underlying changes in the American political system, producing periods 
of partisan turmoil as well as periods of bipartisan stability. Speakers 
have had to adapt their leadership style to the contexts in which they 
were called upon to serve, yet each Speaker has put his stamp on the 
office. The present period is characterized by a strong partisanship not 
experienced since Uncle Joe Cannon was at the zenith of his power, a 
century ago. Whether this augurs well or ill for the House of 
Representatives, the speakership, and the country, is a story yet to be 
                                Chapter 2

                  Speakers Reed, Cannon, and Gingrich:

                     Catalysts of Institutional and

                            Procedural Change

                            Walter J. Oleszek

              Senior Specialist in the Legislative Process

                     Congressional Research Service


                            Richard C. Sachs

               Specialist in American National Government

                     Congressional Research Service

  ``The elect of the elect of the people'' is how a little-known Speaker 
described his position more than two centuries ago.\1\ Most of the early 
Speakers with very few exceptions, such as Speaker Henry Clay (1815-
1820, 1823-1825), functioned largely as presiding officers rather than 
leaders of their parties. This condition began to change during the 
post-Civil War era with the growth of partisan sentiment and party-line 
voting in the House and in the country. Speakers became both their 
party's leader in the House and influential actors on the national 
scene. Perhaps the most powerful and institutionally important of these 
late 19th century Speakers was a man nicknamed ``Czar'' Reed, which is 
why our analysis begins with him.

\1\ Asher Hinds, ``The Speaker and the House,'' McClure's, vol. 35, June 
1910, p. 196. Hinds, a former Member and long-time Parliamentarian of 
the House, was quoting Speaker Nathaniel Macon (R-NC, 1801-1807).

  From Thomas Brackett Reed (R-ME, 1889-1891; 1895-1899) to J. Dennis 
Hastert (R-IL, 1999-  ), 20 lawmakers have served as Speakers of the 
House of Representatives. Only a few are remembered for the procedural 
or institutional changes they initiated or supported during their 
occupancy of this constitutionally-established position. Arguably, three 
Speakers during this century-plus period ushered in ideas and meaningful 
developments that reshaped the operations of the House: Reed, Joseph 
Cannon (R-IL, 1903-1911), and Newt Gingrich (R-GA, 1995-1999). A central 
feature of the three speakerships was the exercise of ``top down'' 
command in an institution largely known for its decentralized power 
structure. Each Speaker, too, was a formidable protagonist to the 
President at the time (William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Bill 
Clinton, respectively).
  Reed, Cannon, and Gingrich were strong personalities, but much of 
their claim to institutional fame arises because they changed the 
culture and work ways of the House. Reed ended the virtually unstoppable 
dilatory practices of the minority and riveted the majoritarian 
principle into the rulebook of the House; Cannon so dominated 
institutional proceedings that he provoked the famous 1910 ``revolt,'' 
which diminished the Speaker's authority and facilitated the rise of the 
committee chairs to power; and Gingrich introduced procedural changes 
that permitted him to lead the House as few other Speakers before him.
  To be sure, other Speakers presided during periods of important 
procedural change. Speaker Sam T. Rayburn (D-TX; 1940-1947, 1949-1953, 
and 1955-1961) led the House when it enacted the Legislative 
Reorganization Act [LRA] of 1946. He was also instrumental in expanding 
the size of the Rules Committee, a 1961 initiative to ensure that 
President John F. Kennedy's New Frontier agenda would not be buried in a 
panel hostile to JFK's legislative program. The expansion marked the 
beginning of the end of an era--roughly from the 1910 revolt to the 
early seventies--in which powerful committee barons exercised 
significant sway over Chamber proceedings. John W. McCormack (D-MA, 
1962-1971), was Speaker during debate and passage of the Legislative 
Reorganization Act of 1970; Carl Albert (D-OK, 1971-1977), and Thomas P. 
O'Neill (D-MA, 1977-1987), both led the House during periods of major 
institutional change--from a resurgent Democratic Caucus to changes in 
the bill referral and committee assignment process to statutory reforms 
such as the War Powers Resolution of 1973, the Congressional Budget and 
Impoundment Control Act of 1974, and the Balanced Budget and Emergency 
Deficit Control Act of 1985.
  The principal advocates of many of these innovations, however, were 
change-oriented individuals (Richard Bolling, D-MO, for instance) or 
informal entities such as the Democratic Study Group, rather than the 
Speaker. When the Senate passed its version of the 1946 LRA and sent it 
to the House, Rayburn ``gave it a skeptical glance and let it sit on his 
desk for six weeks;'' \2\ Speaker McCormack ``resisted the reform of the 
House''; \3\ or, as Representative Bolling said about McCormack's 
efforts in trying to block what eventually became the Legislative 
Reorganization Act of 1970: ``Behind the scenes, Speaker McCormack has 
exerted every effort to prevent enactment of any version of the bill 
designed to provide a limited measure of modernization of the antiquated 
machinery and antiquated ways of doing business in both House and 
Senate.'' \4\ By contrast, Reed, Cannon, and Gingrich were the principal 
advocates or instigators of momentous institutional change.

\2\ D.B. Hardeman and Donald C. Bacon, Rayburn: A Biography (Austin, TX: 
Texas Monthly Press, 1987), p. 319.

\3\ Ronald M. Peters, Jr., The American Speakership: The Office in 
Historical Perspective (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 
1990), p. 151.

\4\ Richard Bolling, Power in the House (New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 
1968), p. 248.

               Thomas Brackett Reed and the ``Reed Rules''

  The Pre-Reed Context.--Thomas Brackett Reed, Republican of Lewiston, 
Maine, became Speaker on December 2, 1889, at the start of the 51st 
Congress. Previous occupants of that high office had little success in 
preventing a determined minority from delaying and obstructing the 
business of the House. With few procedural tools to move the legislative 
agenda, Speakers before Reed entertained motions that were plainly 
dilatory in intent, or as Reed himself characterized them, ``motions 
made only to delay, and to weary . . .'' \5\ The dilatory motions came 
in numerous forms: repeated motions to adjourn, to lay a measure on the 
table, to excuse individual Members from voting, to reconsider votes 
whereby individual Members were excused from voting, and to fix the day 
to which the House should adjourn, among others.\6\ These filibustering 
tactics often prevented the majority party from enacting its legislative 
priorities and opened it to public criticism.

\5\ U.S. House of Representatives, Hinds' Precedents of the House of 
Representatives [by Asher C. Hinds], 5 vols. (Washington: GPO, 1907), 
vol. 5, p. 353.

\6\ Ibid., p. 354.

  Woodrow Wilson wrote critically of the House's inability to conduct 
business because of the paralyzing effect of dilatory practices. In his 
classic study, Congressional Government (1885), Wilson described the 
conduct of a pre-Reed House filibuster on a pension bill brought to the 
floor by the Democratic majority during the 48th Congress (1883-1884):

  [T]he Republican minority disapproved of the bill with great fervor, 
and, when it was moved by the Pension Committee, late one afternoon, in 
a thin House, that the rules be suspended, and an early day set for 
consideration of the bill, the Republicans addressed themselves to 
determined and persistent ``filibustering'' to prevent action. First 
they refused to vote, leaving the Democrats without an acting quorum; 
then, all night long, they kept the House at roll-calling on dilatory 
and obstructive motions . . .'' \7\

\7\ Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 
and Co., 1885), p. 80.

  By ``leaving the Democrats without an acting quorum,'' Wilson is 
referring to the infamous and long-standing House practice dubbed the 
``disappearing quorum.'' Under Article I, Section 5, of the 
Constitution, ``a Majority of each [House] shall constitute a Quorum to 
do Business.'' This provision was, however, interpreted by Reed's 
predecessors to mean one-half of the total membership plus one, who 
formally acknowledge their presence in the Chamber as determined by a 
roll call vote. Though physically present on the floor, the disappearing 
quorum allowed Members to avoid being counted as ``present'' for the 
purpose of a constitutional quorum if they failed to respond when the 
Clerk called their names. ``The position had never been seriously 
questioned that, if a majority of the representatives failed to answer 
to their names on the calling of the roll,'' stated a biographer of 
Reed, ``there was no quorum for the transaction of business even if 
every member might actually be present in the hall of the House.'' \8\

\8\ Samuel W. McCall, Thomas B. Reed (Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 
1914), p. 166.

  The practice of the disappearing quorum originated in 1832 when 
Massachusetts Representative John Quincy Adams, former President of the 
United States (1825-1829), first used the tactic to frustrate House 
action on a proslavery measure.

  Prior to Adams, it had been customary for every member who was present 
to vote. In 1832, when a proslavery measure was being considered, Adams 
broke precedent by sitting silently in his seat as the roll was called 
during voting; enough members joined him so that fewer than a quorum 
voted on the measure. Without a quorum . . . the House could only 
adjourn or order a call of the House to muster a quorum. \9\

\9\ Roger H. Davidson and Walter J. Oleszek, Congress Against Itself 
(Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1977), p. 23.

  In short, the House Chamber could be filled with the total membership, 
but if less than half responded to a call of the House, there was no 
quorum and no substantive business could be conducted. No wonder 
Representative Joseph Cannon referred to the disappearing quorum as 
``the obstruction of silence.'' \10\

\10\ L. White Busbey, Uncle Joe Cannon (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 
1927), p. 74.

  These two procedural devices--dilatory motions and the disappearing 
quorum--enabled partisan minorities to slow or stop the flow of House 
business. The stalling tactics were effective, for example, in forcing 
the House, in 1850, to conduct 31 roll call votes in a single day on a 
California statehood bill; to require, in 1854, 101 roll call votes 
during one legislative day on the Kansas-Nebraska bill; and, on a 
legislative day in 1885, to conduct 21 roll call votes.\11\ Critics of 
these procedural logjams, Woodrow Wilson among them, charged that ``more 
was at stake than the ability of the majority to act in pursuit of its 
legislative agenda; the public reputation and even the legitimacy of the 
House as a democratic institution was under challenge.'' \12\

\11\ U.S. House of Representatives, History of the United States House 
of Representatives, 1789-1994, 103d Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc. No. 103-324 
(Washington: GPO, 1994), p. 181. Hereafter referred to as 1994 History 
of the House. See also U.S. House of Representatives, Journal of the 
House of Representatives, 48th Cong., 2d sess., March 2, 1885 
(Washington: GPO, 1885), pp. 731-765.

\12\ Quoted in 1994 History of the House, p. 181.

  The Reed Rules.--It may appear surprising to some that filibustering 
tactics often prevented the majority party from advancing its agenda 
during the post-Civil War period. This era witnessed the rise of the 
current two-party system and greater partisan cohesion in Congress. It 
was an era ``marked by strong partisan attachments [in the electorate], 
resilient patronage-based party organizations, and especially in the 
later years [of the 19th century], high levels of party voting in 
Congress.'' \13\ Yet, despite the rise of party government in the House, 
no Speaker until Reed used the power of his office to end the 
filibustering tactics of the minority party. Speaker James Blaine (R-ME, 
1869-1875), said when a lawmaker suggested he count as present Members 
in the Chamber who refused to vote: ``The moment you clothe your Speaker 
with power to go behind your roll call and assume there is a quorum in 
the Hall, why gentlemen, you stand on the very brink of a volcano.'' 

\13\ Randall Strahan, ``Thomas Brackett Reed and the Rise of Party 
Government,'' in Roger H. Davidson, Susan Webb Hammond, and Raymond W. 
Smock, eds., Masters of the House: Congressional Leadership Over Two 
Centuries (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), p. 36.

\14\ Representative James Blaine, remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, Feb. 24, 1875, appendix, vol. 3, p. 1734.

  Reed was willing to ``stand on the very brink'' for two key reasons. 
First, he was a strong proponent of the idea that the majority party 
must be able to govern the House. ``Indeed, you have no choice,'' he 
wrote when he was Speaker-elect prior to the convening of the House in 
the 51st Congress (1889-1890). ``If the majority do not govern, the 
minority will; and if tyranny of the majority is hard, the tyranny of 
the minority is simply unendurable. The rules, then, ought to be 
arranged to facilitate action of the majority.'' \15\ Second, the 1888 
elections produced unified GOP control of Congress and the White House 
for the first time in 14 years. (The House's partisan composition was 
166 Republicans and 159 Democrats.) These two conditions, ``together 
with the frustrations and criticism that had surrounded the House in the 
previous Congress, created a `critical moment' in which an unusual 
opportunity was present for large-scale institutional innovation.'' \16\

\15\ Representative Thomas B. Reed, ``Rules of the House of 
Representatives,'' Century, vol. 37, March 1889, pp. 794-795.

\16\ Strahan, ``Thomas Brackett Reed and the Rise of Party Government,'' 
p. 51.

  When the 1st session of the 51st Congress convened on December 2, 
1889, Speaker Reed was determined to end the long-standing ability of 
the minority party to frustrate majority lawmaking through dilatory 
motions and disappearing quorums. Unsure whether he had the votes to 
make these fundamental changes, Reed even planned to resign as Speaker 
and from the House if the Chamber did not sustain his rulings. ``[I] had 
made up my mind that if political life consisted of sitting helplessly 
in the chair and seeing the majority powerless to pass legislation, I 
had had enough of it and was ready to step down and out.'' \17\

\17\ Quoted in Strahan, ``Thomas Brackett Reed and the Rise of Party 
Government,'' p. 53.

  Part of Reed's strategy was to block adoption of the rules of the 
preceding Congress and have them referred to the Rules Committee, the 
panel he, as Speaker, chaired. On the opening day, the House adopted a 
resolution directing that the rules of the 50th Congress be referred to 
the Committee on Rules for review and revision.\18\ Until new rules were 
promulgated for the House, Speaker Reed presided using general 
parliamentary law and could, therefore, decide when to rule dilatory 
motions and disappearing quorums out of order. For example, functioning 
``as the presiding officer under general parliamentary law, Speaker Reed 
consistently refused to accept dilatory motions''--a harbinger of the 
procedural changes to come.\19\

\18\ Congressional Record, vol. 60, Dec. 2, 1889, p. 84.

\19\ Peters, The American Speakership: The Office in Historical 
Perspective, p. 63.

  The House operated under general parliamentary rules--which included 
adoption of resolutions establishing committees and the Chamber's order 
of business--for nearly 3 months. It was during this period that Reed 
made one of the most consequential rulings of any Speaker: terminating 
the disappearing quorum. Speaker Reed understood that he was handling 
political dynamite and carefully calculated how best to end the 
practice. He chose a contested election to force the issue because these 
cases were highly partisan and would galvanize Republicans to support 
the Speaker. Under the Constitution, the House is the judge of the 
elections, returns, and qualifications of its own Members, but the usual 
practice was that contested seats were nearly always awarded to the 
majority party's candidate as a way to increase their margin of control. 
In the period from 1800 to 1907, ``only 3 percent of the 382 `contests' 
were resolved in favor of the candidate of the minority party.'' \20\ 
Mindful of this history, the minority Democrats realized that the Reed-
led Republicans would surely seat the GOP Member in any election 
contest. Their plan: employ the disappearing quorum.

\20\ Douglas H. Price, ``The Congressional Career--Then and Now,'' in 
Nelson Polsby, ed., Congressional Behavior (New York: Random House, 
1971), p. 19.

  The procedural battle was joined on January 28, 1890, when a contested 
election case was brought to the floor. The specific issue involved who 
should be seated from the Fourth District of West Virginia: Charles B. 
Smith, the Republican, or James M. Jackson, the Democrat. 
Unsurprisingly, the GOP-controlled Committee on Elections submitted a 
resolution to the House that recommended the seating of Smith. Speaker 
Reed then put this question to the House: ``Will the House now consider 
the resolution?'' \21\ Democrats demanded the yeas and nays on the 
question, which produced a vote of 162 yeas, 3 nays, and 163 not voting. 
With 165 a quorum at the time, Reed appeared to prevail until two 
Democrats withdrew their votes upping the non-voting total to 165. With 
Democrats crying ``no quorum,'' Speaker Reed directed the Clerk to 
record as present Members who refused to vote, declared that a quorum 
was indeed present, and ruled that the resolution was in order for 

\21\ Representative Thomas B. Reed, remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, vol. 61, Jan. 29, 1890, p. 948.

  Bedlam erupted in the Chamber. Outraged Democrats used such words as 
tyranny, scandal, and revolution to describe the Speaker's action. One 
Member, James McCreary (D-KY), prompted this exchange with the Speaker:

  Mr. McCreary. I deny your right, Mr. Speaker, to count me as present, 
and I desire to read the parliamentary law on the subject.

  The Speaker. The Chair is making a statement of fact that the 
gentleman from Kentucky is present. Does he deny it? \22\

\22\ Ibid., p. 949.

  The parliamentary turmoil lasted 3 days before the House again turned 
to the case of Smith v. Jackson. Democrats ended their delaying tactics 
and motions when it was plain that Reed had the votes to sustain any of 
his rulings. On January 31, 1890, the House resumed consideration of 
Smith v. Jackson, and on February 3, Smith was seated by a vote of 166 
yeas, 0 nays, and 162 not voting. Smith was immediately sworn into 
  With the seating of Smith, Speaker Reed apparently believed that he 
had the votes to definitely ensure adoption of new House rules. On 
February 6, 1890, the Rules Committee reported to the floor new House 
rules, the so-called Reed rules. Eight days later, by a vote of 161 to 
144, with 23 Members not voting, the House adopted new rules which 
augmented the Speaker's authority and limited the minority party's power 
of obstruction. Among the changes were four key provisions.
  First, the disappearing quorum was eliminated. House Rule 15 stated 
that nonvoting Members in the Hall of the House shall be counted by the 
Clerk for purposes of establishing a quorum. Second, Rule 16 declared: 
``No dilatory motions shall be entertained by the Speaker.'' No longer 
could lawmakers offer dilatory motions and have them accepted by the 
Chair. Now the Speaker had formal authority to rule them out of order. 
Third, Rule 23 established a quorum of 100 in the Committee of the 
Whole. Before, a quorum in the Committee was the same as that for the 
full House: half the membership plus one. Lawmakers frequently delayed 
action in the Committee of the Whole by making a point of order that a 
quorum was not present. Finally, Rule 22 authorized the Speaker to refer 
all bills and resolutions to the appropriate committee without debate or 
authorization from the House.
  Defeated on the floor, the Democrats turned to the Supreme Court to 
negate the Speaker's quorum ruling. On April 30, 1890, they contended 
that a quorum was not present when the House voted to approve a bill 
relating to the importation of woolens. The bill was supported by a vote 
of 138 to 0, with 189 lawmakers not voting. In the case of United States 
v. Ballin (1892, 144 U.S. 1), the Court held that the House can decide 
for itself how best to ascertain the presence of a quorum. The 
advantages or disadvantages of such methods were not matters for 
judicial consideration.
  Democrats recaptured control of the House in the 1890 and 1892 
elections and their Speaker (Charles Crisp of Georgia) reverted to the 
practice of the silent quorum, refusing to count lawmakers in the 
Chamber who were present but who remained silent when their names were 
called for votes. Reed, now the minority leader, made such strategic use 
of the disappearing quorum to foil Democratic plans that in 1894 the 
Democratically controlled Chamber reinstated the rule counting for 
quorum purposes Members present in the Chamber but who did not vote. 
Reed returned as Speaker of the 54th (1895-1897) and 55th (1897-1899) 
Congresses; however, in 1899  he  resigned  from  the  House  to  
protest what he characterized as President William McKinley's 
imperialist policies in the Philippines and Hawaii.

                   Speaker Cannon and the 1910 Revolt

  Joseph Cannon was first elected to the House in 1872 and served for 
nearly 50 years--suffering two electoral defeats in 1890 and 1912--
before retiring in 1923. A popular Republican called ``Uncle Joe'' by 
friends and foes alike, Cannon unsuccessfully challenged Reed for 
Speaker in the GOP Caucus of 1888, but his lengthy experience, party 
loyalty, and parliamentary skills prompted Reed to appoint him chair of 
the Appropriations Committee as well as to the Rules Committee. Elevated 
to the speakership on November 9, 1903, Cannon served in that capacity 
until March 3, 1911. As Speaker, Cannon was the inheritor and 
beneficiary of Reed's procedural changes.
  Cannon did not have the intellectual or oratorical abilities of Reed, 
but, like the hedgehog, Cannon knew one great thing: within the formal 
structure of House procedure, the Reed rules now provided the 
opportunity for a Speaker to dominate life in the House; not just 
legislative policymaking on the floor, but the committee system, 
administrative functions, the granting of favors large and small. When 
Cannon became Speaker in 1903, he seized this opportunity and dominated 
the House. His speakership has been described as a case of ``excessive 
leadership.'' \23\

\23\ Charles O. Jones, ``Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith: An Essay 
on the Limits of Leadership in the House of Representatives,'' Journal 
of Politics, vol. 30, Aug. 1968, p. 619.

  Briefly enumerated, Cannon's exercise of power included the following: 
he assigned Members to committees; appointed and removed committee 
chairmen; regulated the flow of bills to the floor as chairman of the 
Rules Committee; referred measures to committee; and controlled floor 
debate. Taken individually, Cannon's powers were little different from 
those of his immediate predecessors, but taken together and exercised to 
their limits, they bordered on the dictatorial.
  A GOP lawmaker said of his recognition power, for example, that it 
made a Member ``a mendicant at the feet of the Speaker begging for the 
right to be heard.'' \24\ Claiming the Rules Committee was simply a pawn 
of the Speaker's, Representative David De Armond (D-MO), suggested that 
Cannon ``personally, officially, and directly . . . make his own report 
of his own action and submit to [a] vote of the House the question of 
making his action the action of the House.'' \25\ In making committee 
assignments, Cannon was not reluctant to ignore seniority. In 1905 he 
appointed as chair of the Appropriations Committee a Member who had 
never before served on the panel. On another occasion, he denied the 
request of GOP Representative George W. Norris of Nebraska, who as a 
progressive leader opposed Cannon's heavy-handed parliamentary rule, to 
be named to a delegation to attend the funeral of a Member who had been 
a personal friend of Norris'.

\24\ Representative William P. Hepburn, remarks in the House, 
Congressional Record, vol. 63, Feb. 18, 1909, p. 2653.

\25\ Representative David De Armond, remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, vol. 63, March 1, 1909, p. 3569.

  Frustration and anger with Cannon's autocratic ways began to soar 
inside and outside the House during his final years as Speaker. No 
Speaker, said a lawmaker, is ``entitled to be the political and 
legislative dictator of this House in whole or in part.'' \26\ Other 
factors aroused opposition to Cannon's leadership. His economic and 
social views were seen as reactionary by many. His relationship with 
President Theodore Roosevelt was often strained because of policy 
differences. As Cannon admitted, the two ``more often disagreed'' than 
agreed over legislation.\27\ As one insurgent Republican--John Nelson of 
Wisconsin--said to his House colleagues, ``Mr. Chairman, I wish to say 
to my Republican fellow Members who believe in the Roosevelt policies, 
let us look at the rules of the House. President Roosevelt has been 
trying to cultivate oranges for many years in the frigid climate of the 
Rules Committee, but what has he gotten but the proverbial lemons.'' 

\26\ Representative Everis A. Hayes, remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, vol. 65, March 19, 1910, p. 3434.

\27\ Busbey, Uncle Joe Cannon, p. 217.

\28\ Representative John Nelson, remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, vol. 62, Feb. 5, 1908, p. 1652.

  Dissatisfaction with Cannon's leadership eventually triggered one of 
the most noteworthy events in the history of the House: the revolt of 
  The 1910 Revolt.--The story of the 1910 revolt has been told many 
times.\29\ Suffice it to say that the rebellion by insurgent Republicans 
and minority Democrats began more than a year before Cannon was stripped 
of important procedural powers. Recognizing that he needed to defuse the 
mounting discontent, Speaker Cannon in 1909 backed several procedural 
changes. He agreed to a new unanimous consent calendar, which allowed 
lawmakers 2 days during a month to call up minor bills without first 
receiving prior approval of the Speaker. A Calendar Wednesday rule was 
adopted, which could only be set aside by a two-thirds vote, that 
provided 1 day each week for standing committees to call up reported 
bills, bypassing the Cannon-run Rules Committee. The Speaker, too, 
agreed to a rules change granting opponents of a bill an opportunity to 
amend a measure just prior to final passage by offering a motion to 
recommit--or send the bill back to the committee that had reported it to 
the floor. (Previously, the Speaker recognized whomever he wanted to 
offer this motion.) Further, the Rules Committee was prohibited from 
reporting a rule that denied opponents the chance to offer a motion to 

\29\ See, for example, Jones, ``Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith: An 
Essay on the Limits of Leadership in the House of Representatives,'' pp. 
617-646. Also, Kenneth Hechler, Insurgency; Personalities and Politics 
of the Taft Era (New York: Russell and Russell, 1964), pp. 27-82; Chang-
Wei Chiu, The Speaker of the House of Representatives Since 1896 (New 
York: Columbia University Press, 1928); and Paul DeWitt Hasbrouck, Party 
Government in the House of Representatives (New York: MacMillan Co., 
1927), pp. 1-13.

\30\ Donald R. Wolfensberger, ``The Motion to Recommit in the House: The 
Creation, Evisceration, and Restoration of a Minority Right.'' A paper 
prepared for presentation at a conference on the History of Congress, 
University of California, San Diego, December 5-6, 2003. Mr. 
Wolfensberger is director of The Congress Project, Woodrow Wilson 
International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.

  These rules changes did little to halt insurgent and public attacks on 
the Speaker. Several national magazines ran ``articles in regular 
installments that not only detailed the Speaker's wrongdoings but also 
praised the insurgents.'' \31\ Eventually, opponents of Cannon 
successfully marshaled their forces--employing a procedural resolution 
offered by Representative Norris--to weaken the power of the Speaker. 
The insurgent forces removed the Speaker from the Rules Committee and 
stripped him of the right to appoint lawmakers to that panel. On March 
19, 1910, the House agreed to the Norris resolution, which provided that 
``there shall be a Committee on Rules, elected by the House, consisting 
of 10 Members, 6 of whom shall be Members of the majority party and 4 of 
whom shall be Members of the minority party. The Speaker shall not be a 
member of the committee and the committee shall elect its own chairman 
from its own members.'' \32\ Nearly 3 months later, on June 17, 1910, 
the House further weakened the power of the Speaker by adopting a 
discharge calendar. This new rule established a procedure to discharge 
(or extract) bills from committee, providing them with an opportunity to 
be voted on by the House.

\31\ Rager, ``Uncle Joe Cannon: Brakeman of the House,'' in Davidson, 
Hammond, and Smock, Masters of the House, p. 77.

\32\ H. Res. 502, 61st Cong., 2d sess., Congressional Record, vol. 65, 
March 19, 1910, p. 3429.

  With ``Cannonism'' an issue in the November 1910 elections, Democrats 
recaptured control of the 62d Congress (1911-1913). On April 5, 1911, 
they adopted a new rule which removed from the Speaker his authority to 
appoint Members to the standing committees. This authority was formally 
assigned to the House. In reality, each party nominated its partisans to 
the standing committees through its Committee on Committees, which was 
followed by pro forma House approval of these decisions.
  Cannon's ability to act as an autocratic Speaker was due in part to 
Reed's skillful remodeling of the rules to remove procedural obstacles 
to lawmaking erected by the minority party. Cannon's contribution was 
his forceful use of the rules to discipline not just minority party 
members, but members of his own party as well. The Speaker's heavy-
handedness was also attributable to those Republicans who opposed Cannon 
but feared--and so remained silent--that his downfall could produce a 
Democratic Speaker who would use the rules no differently. Various 
factors, as noted earlier, have been suggested to explain Cannon's fall 
from power: he exercised procedural power so autocratically that it 
provoked the rebellion against his leadership; he ignored for too long 
the rising tide of progressivism, a GOP-led reform movement, preferring 
instead to adhere to the status quo of Republican regularity; and he was 
a 19th century man arriving at a position of national political power in 
a 20th century moment--a modern moment--of rapid social, economic, and 
political change for which he was unprepared.

                    The Rise of Committee Government

  Whatever combination of forces led to the 1910 revolt, its aftermath 
for the institution was dramatic. If the House of Speaker Cannon was 
``partisan, hierarchical, majoritarian and largely populated by members 
serving less than three terms,'' it gradually became ``less partisan, 
more egalitarian, and populated by careerists.'' \33\

\33\ David Brady, ``After the Big Bang House Battles Focused on 
Committee Issues,'' Public Affairs Report, University of California, 
Berkeley, March 1991, p. 8.

  The 1910 revolt produced a major shift in the internal distribution of 
power in the House. Committees and their leaders came to dominate 
policymaking for the next 60 years.\34\ Various reasons account for this 
development, such as the rise of congressional careerism and the 
institutionalization of the seniority system.\35\

\34\ There was a brief interlude of governance by ``King Caucus.'' When 
the Democrats took control following the one-man rule of Cannon, they 
employed their caucus, for example, to debate and mark up legislation 
prior to its introduction in the Chamber and to bind, by a two-thirds 
vote of the caucus, all Democrats to support the party's position on the 
floor. However, enthusiasm for governing this way faded, and Democrats 
gradually made less use of King Caucus; it did not survive the return to 
power of the Republicans following the November 1918 elections. See 
Wilder H. Haines, ``The Congressional Caucus of Today,'' American 
Political Science Review, vol. 9, Nov. 1915, p. 699.

\35\ Nelson W. Polsby, et al., ``The Growth of the Seniority System in 
the U.S. House of Representatives,''  American Political Science Review, 
vol. 63, Sept. 1969, pp. 790-791.

  Seniority--longevity of continuous service on a committee--became not 
just an established method for naming committee chairs, but an 
ingrained, inviolate organizational norm for both parties. As a result, 
committee chairmen owed little or nothing to party leaders, much less 
Presidents. This automatic selection process produced experienced, 
independent chairs, but it also made them resistant to party control. 
Many lawmakers chafed under a system that concentrated authority in so 
few hands. Members objected, too, that the seniority system promoted 
lawmakers from ``safe'' one-party areas--especially conservative 
southern Democrats and midwestern Republicans--who could ignore party 
policies or national sentiments.
  Committee government was characterized by bargaining and negotiating 
between party and committee leaders. Speakers had to persuade committee 
chairs to support priority legislation. ``A man's got to lead by 
persuasion and the best reason,'' declared Speaker Rayburn, ``that's the 
only way he can lead people.'' \36\ For example, by the early thirties, 
and continuing for virtually all of Rayburn's service as Speaker, the 
Rules Committee was dominated by a conservative coalition of southern 
Democrats and Republicans. Thus, much of Speaker Rayburn's time was 
spent persuading and bargaining with Rules members to report legislation 
favored by various Presidents and many legislators.

\36\ ``What Influences Congress: An Interview with Sam Rayburn, Speaker 
of the House of Representatives.'' U.S. News and World Report, vol. 26, 
Oct. 13, 1950, p. 30.

  The late sixties and seventies saw a rapid influx of new lawmakers, 
many from the cities and suburbs, who opposed the conservative status 
quo. Allying themselves with more senior Representatives, especially 
Democrats (recall that Democrats controlled the House continuously for 
40 years from 1955 to 1995), they pushed through changes that diffused 
power and shattered seniority as an absolute criterion for naming 
committee chairs. A resurgent Democratic Caucus initiated many of the 
procedural changes that transformed the distribution of internal power. 
Some of the changes were enacted into law (the Legislative 
Reorganization Act of 1970, for example); some made rules of the 
Democratic Caucus--the ``subcommittee bill of rights'' is an example 
which required, among other procedural changes, that committee chairs 
refer legislation to the appropriate subcommittee within 2 weeks after 
initial introduction.
  Among the important consequences of these various enactments were: the 
spread of policymaking influence to the subcommittees and among junior 
lawmakers; the enhancement of Congress' role in determining Federal 
budget priorities through a new congressional budget process; the 
infusion of flexibility and accountability into the previously rigid 
seniority system; the tightening of the Speaker's control over the Rules 
Committee (he was granted the authority to select its chair and the 
other majority members of the panel); and greater transparency of the 
House's deliberative processes heretofore closed to public observation, 
including gavel-to-gavel televised coverage of floor proceedings over C-
SPAN [Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network].
  Institutionally, dual and contradictory changes were underway in the 
House during the seventies. Power was shifted from committee chairs 
downward to the subcommittee chairs (subcommittee government as it was 
called by some scholars), as well as upward to the centralized party 
leadership. House Democratic reformers wanted to make the committee 
system more accountable to the Speaker and the Democratic Caucus as a 
whole. They brought about some centralization of authority--examples 
include removing the committee assignment process from the Democrats on 
the Ways and Means Committee and lodging it in the party Steering and 
Policy Committee and augmenting the party whip system--but in other ways 
the changes produced a highly decentralized and individualized 
institution that made it harder for party leaders to mobilize winning 
coalitions. Before, party leaders could often rely on a few powerful 
committee chairs or State delegation leaders to deliver blocs of votes; 
under subcommittee government, scores of entrepreneurial lawmakers had 
the capacity to forge coalitions that could pass, modify, or defeat 
  The decentralizing forces of the seventies gradually subsided and 
strong leadership began to reemerge in the eighties. ``[T]he latent 
power of centralized party leadership was aroused by unanticipated 
changes in the political landscape and the policy agenda.'' \37\ These 
changes included the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980 and 
1984. Leading the House became more difficult with sharp differences 
erupting between the branches--and between the House and Senate, the 
latter in GOP hands from 1981 to 1987--over the role of the Federal 
Government and national policy priorities.

\37\ Roger H. Davidson, The Postreform Congress (New York: St. Martin's 
Press, 1992), p. 114.

  Challenged by President Reagan to limit the domestic role of 
government, cut taxes, and increase defense spending, Democratic Members 
recognized the importance of strengthening their party leaders both to 
overcome institutional fragmentation and to negotiate bicameral and 
interbranch differences with the White House and the GOP-controlled 
Senate. Rank-and-file Democrats looked to Speaker Thomas P. ``Tip'' 
O'Neill (D-MA), to develop and publicize party programs, and to 
negotiate equitable budget deals with the Reagan administration, 
sometimes in high-stakes budget summits. In response, O'Neill used 
leadership task forces to promote party priorities, created ad hoc 
panels to process major legislation, and innovated the use of special 
rules from the Rules Committee to advance the party's program.
  As partisan disagreements became sharper, Republicans repeatedly made 
O'Neill a media target during congressional November elections. In turn, 
as the first Speaker to preside over a televised House, and as his 
party's highest elected official, O'Neill became a vocal critic of 
Reagan's domestic and foreign policies. As a result, the speakership 
itself was transformed during O'Neill's time. ``Today, O'Neill is as 
much a celebrity and news source as he is an inside strategist.'' \38\ 
In short, when O'Neill retired from the House at the end of 1986, the 
speakership was an office of high national visibility.

\38\ Alan Ehrenhalt, ``Speaker's Job Transformed Under O'Neill,'' 
Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 43, June 22, 1985, p. 1247.

  The speakership, too, had accumulated additional centralized authority 
for the management of the House's business. At the urging of the party 
rank-and-file, the Speaker-controlled Rules Committee began to issue 
more restrictive rules to protect Democrats from having to vote on 
electorally divisive, GOP-inspired ``November'' amendments. By at least 
the mideighties, ``Democratic party leaders in the House became more 
active, more forceful in moving party legislation forward.'' \39\

\39\ Leroy N. Rieselbach, Congressional Reform: The Changing Modern 
Congress (Washington: CQ Press, 1994), p. 129.

  In 1987, James C. Wright (D-TX), became Speaker. An aggressive leader, 
Wright took bold risks and exercised his leadership prerogatives in an 
assertive manner. For example, he prodded committee chairmen to move 
priority legislation, recommended policies (raising taxes to cut 
deficits, for example) over the opposition of the Reagan White House and 
many Democratic colleagues, and employed procedural tactics--limiting 
GOP amendment opportunities, for example--that made Republicans' 
minority status more painful and embittered their relations with 
Democratic leaders. ``If Wright consolidates his power, he will be a 
very, very formidable man,'' said Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA). 
``We have to take him on early to prevent that.'' \40\

\40\ John Berry, The Ambition and the Power: The Fall of Jim Wright (New 
York: Viking, 1989), p. 6.

  Gingrich represented a new breed of Republican who entered the House 
starting with the election of 1978. They were unhappy with the 
institutional status quo and the cooperative relations their GOP leaders 
had established and maintained with Democrats. These Gingrich-led 
Republicans sought to portray the Democratic leadership as corrupt and 
to undermine public confidence in congressional operations. The 
strategic goal was to win Republican control of the House. Gingrich 
employed two long-term plans in his eventual rise to power. First, he 
urged all Republicans to work together to advance a unified conservative 
agenda and to use that agenda to nationalize House elections. Second, 
GOP Members would aggressively confront the Democratic leadership about 
what Republicans viewed as the unfairness of the legislative process and 
attempt to make the internal operations of the Chamber a public issue. 
For example, Gingrich and his Republican allies argued vociferously that 
special rules from the Rules Committee were skewed to bolster the 
majority party and that the Democratic leadership was stifling 
legitimate debate on national issues. Gingrich also employed ethics as a 
partisan weapon against Speaker Wright, which led to his departure from 
the House in June 1989. (Wright was charged with violating several House 
rules, such as accepting gifts from a close business associate.)
  Wright was succeeded as Speaker by Majority Leader Thomas Foley (D-
WA). Elected to the House in November 1964, Foley rose through the ranks 
to become Speaker during an era of sharp partisan animosity and 
political infighting. Republicans found Foley easier to work with than 
the more pugnacious Wright, but they also lamented his willingness to 
use procedural rules to frustrate GOP objectives. Significantly, public 
approval of Congress reached an all-time low of 17 percent as citizens 
learned in September 1991 about Members bouncing personal checks at a 
so-called House bank.\41\ Voters also learned that some lawmakers had 
converted campaign and official office funds into cash for personal use. 
Speaker Foley worked to win back the public's trust by supporting such 
initiatives as more professional administrative management of the House 
and tighter restrictions on lobbyists. Democratic reform efforts proved 
to be insufficient. In November 1994, after a 30-year congressional 
career, Foley lost his bid to return to the House in that year's 
electoral earthquake. That election returned Republican majorities to 
both the House--for the first time since 1954--and the Senate.

\41\ C. Lawrence Evans and Walter J. Oleszek, Congress Under Fire: 
Reform Politics and the Republican Majority (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 
Co., 1997), pp. 35-38.

                  The Return of the Strong Speakership

  Newt Gingrich, who was his party's unanimous choice for Speaker, took 
the office to new heights of influence, initially challenging even the 
President as a force in national politics and policymaking. Three 
factors help to explain this development: recognition on the part of 
most Republicans that Gingrich was responsible for leading his party out 
of the electoral wilderness of the ``permanent minority''; the broad 
commitment of GOP lawmakers to the Republican agenda; and the new 
majority's need to succeed at governance after 40 years in the minority. 
Not since the Cannon era had there been such vigorous party leadership 
in the House. Speaker Gingrich explained the need for greater central 
authority. The GOP must change, he said, ``from a party focused on 
opposition to a majority party with a responsibility for governing. That 
requires greater assets in the leader's office.'' \42\

\42\ David Cloud, ``Gingrich Clears the Path for Republican Advance,'' 
Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 52, Nov. 19, 1994, p. 3319.

  A key centralizing aspect of Gingrich's speakership was his influence 
over committees. Not only did Gingrich personally select certain 
Republicans to chair several standing committees, ignoring seniority in 
the process, he also required the GOP members of the Appropriations 
Committee to sign a written pledge that they would heed the Republican 
leadership's recommendations for spending reductions. Furthermore, he 
often bypassed committees entirely by establishing leadership task 
forces to process legislation, dictated orders to committee chairs, and 
used the Rules Committee to redraft committee-reported legislation. 
Party power during this period dominated committee power.
  The centerpiece of Gingrich's early days as Speaker was a 10-point 
Republican Party program titled the ``Contract with America,'' which the 
House acted upon within the promised first 100 days of the 104th 
Congress. The contract set the agenda for Congress and the Nation during 
this period. An important component of the contract was a wholesale 
reworking of the Rules of the House, the most significant since Speaker 
Reed. ``The elections of November 8, 1994, transformed the politics of 
congressional structures and procedures,'' declaimed a congressional 
scholar.\43\ With GOP cohesion and solidarity especially high, Speaker 
Gingrich consolidated and exercised power to transform House operations 
in significant ways.

\43\ Roger Davidson, ``Congressional Committees in the New Reform Era,'' 
in James A. Thurber and Roger H. Davidson, eds., Remaking Congress: 
Change and Stability in the 1990s (Washington: Congressional Quarterly 
Inc., 1995), p. 41.

  Among the administrative, legislative, and procedural actions taken by 
Republicans during the 104th Congress were these: (1) passing the 
Congressional Accountability Act, which applied workplace safety and 
antidiscrimination laws to Congress; (2) hiring Price Waterhouse and 
Company, a nationally known accounting firm, to conduct an independent 
audit of House finances; (3) cutting House committee and subcommittee 
staffs by one-third; (4) imposing 6-year term limits on committee and 
subcommittee chairs; (5) banning proxy--or absentee--voting in 
committees; (6) permitting radio and television coverage of open 
committee sessions as a matter of right and not by authorization of the 
committee; (7) guaranteeing to the minority party the right to offer a 
motion to recommit with instructions; (8) restricting Members to two 
standing committee assignments and four subcommittee assignments; (9) 
requiring more systematic committee oversight plans; (10) prohibiting 
commemorative measures; (11) doing away with the joint referral of 
legislation--referring measures to two or more committees 
simultaneously--but authorizing the Speaker to designate a primary 
committee of jurisdiction upon the initial referral of a measure; (12) 
prescribing term limits--8 years of consecutive service--for the Speaker 
(abolished at the start of the 108th Congress); (13) eliminating three 
standing committees (District of Columbia, Post Office and Civil 
Service, and Merchant Marine and Fisheries) and consolidating their 
functions in other, sometimes renamed, standing committees; (14) 
transforming the Committee on House Administration into a leadership-
appointed panel; and (15) reorganizing the administrative units of the 
  These and many other formal and informal Gingrich-led changes made the 
104th House (1995-1997) considerably different from its immediate 
predecessor, modifying the legislative culture and context of the House. 
Civility between Democrats and Republicans eroded as both sides 
exploited procedural and political devices in efforts either to retain, 
or win back, majority control of the House. Some of the attempted 
reforms also proved hard to implement. The new majority promised a more 
open and fair amendment process compared to the restrictive amendment 
opportunities Republicans often experienced during Democratic control of 
the House. This goal, however, sometimes clashed with a fundamental 
objective of any majority party in the House: the need to enact priority 
legislation even if it means restricting lawmakers' amendment 
opportunities. Throughout the 104th Congress, Democrats and Republicans 
prepared ``dueling statistics'' on the number of open versus restrictive 
rules issued by the Rules Committee. Democratic frustration with GOP-
reported rules that limit their amendment opportunities has escalated in 
subsequent years.\44\

\44\ Erin P. Billings, ``Democrats Protest Closed Rules in the House,'' 
Roll Call, March 17, 2003, p. 16.

  In 1995, Time named Gingrich their ``Man of the Year.'' (Ironically, 
the person to appear on the first issue of the magazine's cover was Joe 
Cannon.) However, Speaker Gingrich soon encountered political and 
personal problems. In an unsuccessful confrontation with President Bill 
Clinton, the Gingrich-led Republicans were twice publicly blamed for 
shutting down parts of the government in late 1995 and early 1996 
because of failure to enact appropriations bills in a timely manner. 
Rank-and-file Republicans became upset with the Speaker's impulsive 
leadership style. A small group of Republicans, with the encouragement 
of some in the leadership, planned in summer 1997 to depose Gingrich as 
Speaker, but the plot was uncovered and averted.\45\ Nonetheless, the 
coup attempt exposed the deep frustration with the Speaker within GOP 
ranks. Gingrich, too, was reprimanded by the House for ethical 
misconduct and blamed for the loss of GOP House seats in the 1996 and 
1998 elections. Weakened by these developments, Gingrich resigned from 
the House at the end of the 105th Congress.

\45\ Jackie Koszczuk, ``Party Stalwarts Will Determine Gingrich's Long-
Term Survival,'' Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 55, July 
26, 1997, pp. 1751-1755.

                         Concluding Observations

  The historian David McCullough once wrote, ``Congress . . . rolls on 
like a river . . . always there and always changing.'' \46\ His 
observation fits the speakerships of Reed, Cannon and Gingrich. Although 
each served in different political, economic, and social circumstances--
with a President of their own party or not, for example, Reed, Cannon 
and Gingrich centralized procedural control of the House in their hands 
to accomplish policy and political goals. Each was willing to hamstring 
the minority party and to challenge the White House. Whether the 
influence of these Speakers stems primarily from the context in which 
they served (the strength of partisan identification in the electorate, 
the autonomy of committees, the cohesiveness of the majority party, 
etc.) or their personal skills, abilities, and talents, there is little 
doubt that, at the apex of their power they shaped and reshaped the 
procedures, policies, and politics of the House.

\46\ David McCullough, ``Time and History on Capitol Hill,'' in Roger H. 
Davidson and Richard C. Sachs, eds., Understanding Congress: Research 
Perspectives, U.S. House of Representatives, 101st Cong., 2d sess., 
1991, H. Doc. 101-241, p. 32.

  The return of dictatorial Speakers on the order of Joe Cannon is 
unlikely in the contemporary era. The reasons seem mostly self-evident: 
greater transparency in almost all of Congress' activities; larger, more 
diverse, and more sophisticated media coverage of Congress; a 
congressional membership that is not only better educated but one that 
has thrived in an era where policy and political entrepreneurship is a 
norm and overly strict adherence to the directives of a single party 
leader an uncommon occurrence; and the expectations of attentive and 
well-educated constituents who want Members to participate in public 
debates and media events and to initiate policy proposals.
  The speakership in its most recent incarnation draws its strength in 
part because of a procedural change adopted during the Gingrich 
speakership: the three-term limit on committee chairs. These committee 
leaders are unlikely to remain in their post long enough to accrue 
political influence sufficient to challenge the Speaker on a regular or 
sustained basis. Moreover, the decision to appoint a new committee chair 
is exercised by the Speaker-led Republican Steering Committee. 
Congressional history demonstrates, however, that centralized authority 
is not a permanent condition. Instead, the forces of centralization and 
decentralization are constantly in play, and they regularly adjust and 
reconfigure in response to new conditions and events.
  Another large source of influence for today's Speaker is the 
heightened level of partisanship in the House. This situation often 
enables majority party leaders to demand, and often get, party loyalty 
on various votes. Broadly, the Speaker has the dual task of mobilizing 
majority support for party goals and, concurrently, formulating and 
publicizing issues that attract the support of partisans and swing 
voters nationally so his party retains majority control of the House.
  The Reed, Cannon, and Gingrich speakerships highlight how each defined 
their role according to time, place, and circumstance. The office itself 
has changed shape time and again, and its ability to procedurally and 
politically control the business of the House has waxed and waned. The 
heightened partisanship in today's House means that the Speaker often 
gets party loyalty on key votes. Probably the Speaker's most compelling 
argument to his partisans is that if they are to maintain majority 
control, they must stick together and do whatever it takes politically 
and procedurally to retain their status. Speakers may lose key votes on 
the floor, but it is seldom for lack of trying.
  In its present configuration, the speakership is as significant an 
office as any time in the past, a product now of its occupant and 
lieutenants collectively and the conditions in which they operate. These 
circumstances today favor strong party leadership, but Speakers always 
operate under a range of constraints, such as the independence of 
lawmakers and size and unity (or fragmentation) of the majority party. 
At bottom, the Speaker's authority rests on the willingness of lawmakers 
to follow his lead. Without followership, Speakers can still be ``the 
sport of political storms.'' \47\

\47\ Herbert Bruce Fuller, The Speakers of the House (Boston: Little, 
Brown and Company, 1909), p. 292.
                                Chapter 3

           The Speaker of the House and the Committee on Rules

                          Christopher M. Davis

                 Analyst in American National Government

                     Congressional Research Service


  The rules . . . are not for the purpose of protecting the rights of 
the minority, but to promote the orderly conduct of the business of the 

                                                  Speaker Thomas B. Reed

  [To provide the Speaker] absolute control of the House through its 
Committee on Rules is giving greater power to the Speaker of the House 
than any man in this free Republic ought to possess.

                                         Representative Joseph W. Bailey

  The Speaker of the House and the Committee on Rules have existed since 
the First Congress. In fact, the first select committee established in 
the House in 1789 was a Committee on Rules; the first rule it reported 
detailed the duties of the Speaker.
  For the first 90 years of its existence, the Rules Committee was a 
temporary and relatively unimportant entity. From 1789 to 1880, however, 
both the link between the Speaker and the Rules Committee, and the power 
of each, would grow. This accumulation of influence was gradual, and was 
tied directly to the actions and aspirations of individual Speakers. In 
1858 a sitting Speaker was named a member of the Select Rules Committee, 
and in 1880, the panel was made a permanent standing committee which the 
Speaker chaired.
  Since 1880, the committee has been at various times an agent of the 
Speaker's power, an opponent and counterweight to it, a political 
traffic cop, a leadership gatekeeper, an unmovable parliamentary 
roadblock, an investigative and oversight body, and a secondary 
legislative filter. The Rules Committee has played an increasingly 
important role in the Congress. Through it, Speakers of the House have 
been able to largely control not only the flow, but the substance, of 
legislation from the standing committees to the House floor. The 
committee has become one of the most important ingredients in a 
Speaker's ability to govern.
  As one scholar points out, ``Sometimes a Speaker has dominated the 
[Rules] Committee from his position as its chairman; more often than 
not, he has exerted great influence over it through his impact on the 
selection of its members. More rarely, he has been confronted with an 
independent and sometimes rebellious committee.'' \1\

\1\ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Rules, A History of the 
Committee on Rules, committee print, 97th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington: 
GPO, 1983), p. 6.

  The power relationship between the Rules Committee and the Speaker has 
often been a synergistic one, each reinforcing the other. It is little 
wonder, then, that the House Rules Committee is often called ``the 
Speaker's committee.''

                    The Origin of the Rules Committee

  While today the Rules Committee is central to the power of the Speaker 
and the operations of the modern Congress, the origin of the committee 
is far more modest. In April 1789, when a quorum was finally achieved in 
the First Congress after weeks of waiting for Members to arrive from the 
13 States, the first select committee established was a committee on 
rules. The 11-member panel, appointed by Speaker Frederick A.C. 
Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania and chaired by Representative Elias Boudinot 
of New Jersey, was directed to ``prepare and report such standing rules 
and orders of proceedings as may be proper to be observed in this 
House.'' \2\ When the select committee reported back to the House 5 days 
later, the first rule it recommended outlined the duties and powers of 
the Speaker of the House. This rules package was known as the ``Boudinot 
rules,'' after the chair of the select committee.

\2\ Journal of the House of Representatives, 1st Cong., 1st sess., April 
2, 1789, p. 6.

  At this time, and indeed, for the next 90 years, the Committee on 
Rules wielded scant influence over the substance of legislation or the 
order of procedural business in the House. During these early years, 
when the Congress was small, and conducted comparatively little 
legislative business, the Rules Committee was largely a housekeeping 
panel that met at the beginning of a session to craft a rules package 
or, more frequently, simply to readopt the Boudinot rules of the First 
Congress. In many early congressional sessions, the Rules Committee met 
once to accomplish this task, and not again; in other Congresses, the 
panel did not make a single report. One congressional scholar has 
pointed out, ``the custom of re-adopting the Boudinot Rules . . . left 
little [work] to a Committee on Rules.'' \3\ In fact, in its early 
history, the select committee was so insignificant to the operations of 
the House that, during one 11-year period--from 1817 to 1828--Speakers 
of the House did not even bother to appoint Members to the committee.\4\

\3\ DeAlva Stanwood Alexander, History and Procedure of the House of 
Representatives (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916), p. 182.

\4\ James A. Robinson, The House Rules Committee (Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Merrill, 1963), p. 59.

  From 1841 to 1883, however, the Rules Committee began a gradual 
evolution that would transform it into one of the House's most powerful 
committees. As a result of this evolution, the Rules Committee would 
become so central to the power of the Speaker and the scheduling of the 
business of the House, that in spring 1910, almost 121 years to the day 
after the first Select Rules Committee was established, the House, in a 
rare instance of open revolution, would rise up in bipartisan revolt 
against the Speaker of the House and strip him of his seat on the Rules 
Committee, an entity which had become ``the citadel of his power.'' \5\

\5\ Ibid., p. 57.

  This journey to the heights of power was a slow one, however, that 
evolved even as the young legislative body grew. In June 1841, the House 
gave the Rules Committee the power to report from time to time; prior to 
that, the panel had only been permitted to report at the beginning of a 
Congress on possible revisions to the rules. This change was made in the 
hope that the additional power granted the committee would allow it to 
undertake a comprehensive reform of the Chamber's rules, which had 
become a ``hodgepodge'' that ``bordered on chaos.'' \6\ The committee, 
however, was unable to make a comprehensive reform of House rules. 
Shortly thereafter, Speaker John White of Kentucky, conferred additional 
influence on the committee by ruling that the panel could ``make reports 
in part at different times.'' \7\

\6\ A History of the Committee on Rules, pp. 44-45.

\7\ Ibid., p. 44.

  In 1849, the House, frustrated with the continued confused state of 
the rules, briefly made Rules a standing committee with the hopes that 
doing so would enable it to comprehensively reform the Chamber's rules. 
After 4 years, however, the panel had still not been able to accomplish 
this task. Simply put, ``what resulted was more of the same.'' \8\

\8\ Ibid., p. 45.

  In 1853, the House adopted a resolution making legislation reported 
from the Rules Committee privileged for consideration, mandating that 
reports from the panel be ``acted upon by the House until disposed of, 
to the exclusion of all other business.'' \9\ This additional grant of 
power failed to help the panel achieve comprehensive rules reform and, 
in 1857, the panel remained so unimportant that the House did not even 
create it until a full 6 months of the 35th Congress had elapsed.

\9\ ``The Rules Again,'' Congressional Globe, vol. 23, Dec. 5, 1853, p. 

  In 1858, however, an important breakthrough occurred. The House 
established a select panel made up of the Speaker and four other Members 
to revise the rules and report back to the full House; this was the 
first time that a Speaker had served on one of the Chamber's legislative 
committees. Under the resolution, the Speaker named the four other 
members of the select committee. During floor debate, one Member offered 
an amendment to have the House, rather than the Speaker, appoint these 
members, but it was overwhelmingly defeated and the resolution 
establishing the select committee was adopted with almost no debate.\10\ 
Although the action received little debate on the floor, it marked the 
first time the Speaker was in full command of the Rules Committee.

\10\ ``Revision of the Rules,'' Congressional Globe, vol. 28, June 14, 
1858, p. 3048.

  In the 36th Congress, the select committee reported back its suggested 
revisions of the rules, which were subsequently adopted by the House. 
Included in the report were provisions providing for a five-person Rules 
Committee appointed and chaired by the Speaker of the House.\11\ The 
Speaker would remain a member of the House Rules Committee, serving as 
its chair, appointing its members (as well as the members of all House 
committees) and exercising its power and authority for the next three 
decades. Thus, after 1858, the powers of the committee and the authority 
of the Speaker became even more closely linked, ``a circumstance which 
served both to enhance the role of the committee and to strengthen the 
influence of the Speaker.'' \12\

\11\ U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, A Short 
History of the Development of the Committee on Rules, typed report by 
Walter Kravitz and Walter J. Oleszek, Jan. 30, 1978, p. 4.

\12\ Ibid.

  In 1880, the Rules Committee was made a permanent standing committee 
of the House and given legislative jurisdiction over ``all proposed 
action touching the rules and joint rules.'' The House undertook this 
action in the course of another comprehensive overhaul of its rules, 
which reduced the number of standing rules from 166 to 44.\13\

\13\ George B. Galloway, History of the United States House of 
Representatives, 89th Cong., 1st sess., H. Doc. 250 (Washington: GPO, 
1965), p. 47.

  The first chairman of the revamped committee, Speaker Samuel J. 
Randall (D-PA), used his authority on the Rules Committee to bolster the 
influence of his office, establishing that all future rules changes 
should be referred to the Rules Committee, and that its reports could be 
brought to the floor any time.\14\

\14\ Ibid., p. 47.

  The powers of the committee and the Speaker continued to grow when 
control of the Chamber shifted again in 1881. One of the first Members 
to recognize the full potential of the Rules Committee to manage 
legislative business was Representative Thomas Brackett Reed (R-ME), who 
was appointed to the Rules Committee in 1882.
  In February 1883, in an important development that foreshadowed the 
role of the modern Rules Committee, the House upheld a Speaker's ruling 
that the committee could report a special order of business for a 
specific bill. The significance of this ruling was that it allowed the 
House to take up individual bills by a simple majority vote rather than 
being forced to rely on the cumbersome suspension of the rules 
procedure, which required a super majority vote of two-thirds, or by 
unanimous consent.\15\

\15\ Ibid., p. 48.

  This ruling was prompted by Representative Reed, who called up a 
resolution reported by the Rules Committee that sought to allow the 
House to suspend the rules by simple majority vote and request a 
conference with the Senate on tariff legislation. A point of order was 
made by Representative Joseph Blackburn (D-KY) against the resolution on 
the grounds that the Rules Committee did not have the authority to 
report such a resolution. In making his argument, Blackburn pointed out 
that the resolution was neither a House rule nor an amendment to House 
rules, and should thus be ruled out of order. Speaker J. Warren Keifer 
(R-OH) overruled the point of order on grounds that the resolution was 
``reported as a rule from the Committee on Rules.'' The Speaker 
explained that, just as the Rules Committee could report a rule to 
suspend or repeal any or every rule of the House, subject to approval by 
the House itself, it could also issue a rule that would ``apply to a 
single great and important measure . . . pending before the Congress.'' 

\16\ House Committee on Rules, Official Web site, www.house.gov/rules, 
accessed on Aug. 12, 2003.

  While this was the first instance of the House adopting a ``special 
rule'' for the consideration of a specific bill, it did not at that time 
lead to a flood of special rules from the Speaker, or give an indication 
of the tremendously important procedural development it would later 
prove to be. ``The method of adopting a special order from the Committee 
on Rules by a majority vote,'' one historian noted, ``was not in favor 
for the following three Congresses. In 1887, it was regarded as a 
proceeding of `doubtful validity' . . . it was not until . . . 1890 that 
this method . . . gained the favor of the House as an efficient means of 
bringing bills out of their regular order for . . . immediate 
consideration.'' \17\

\17\ Chang-Wei Chiu, The Speaker of the House of Representatives Since 
1896 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1928), pp. 120-121.

  By 1890, the function of providing special orders of business for the 
consideration of legislation became routine and was the sole prerogative 
of the Rules Committee and its chair, the Speaker. Speaker John G. 
Carlisle (D-KY), regularly issued special rules from the committee for 
individual bills, further cementing the practice. ``Since that time,'' 
former House Parliamentarian Asher Hinds points out, the issuance of 
special rules ``has been in favor as an efficient means of bringing up 
for consideration bills difficult to reach in the regular order and 
especially as a means for confining within specified limits the 
consideration of bills involving important policies for which the 
majority party in the House may be responsible.'' \18\

\18\ Asher C. Hinds, Hinds' Precedents of the United States House of 
Representatives, 5 vols. (Washington: GPO, 1907), vol. IV,  3152.

  When Republicans retook control of the House in the 51st Congress, 
1889-1891, Representative Reed was chosen Speaker. He immediately took 
advantage of his position as chairman of the Rules Committee to control 
legislative business on the floor through the use of special rules. More 
importantly, Speaker Reed used his power as Speaker and chairman of the 
Rules Committee in tandem to clear minority obstruction of floor 
  As presiding officer, Reed issued several landmark rulings that in 
effect, outlawed minority obstructive tactics, particularly the 
``disappearing quorum,'' a parliamentary innovation pioneered by John 
Quincy Adams during his 17 years as a Member of the House following his 
one term as President. By this tactic, minority Members, although 
physically present in the House Chamber, would refuse to vote, thus 
denying the body the quorum needed to do business. Speaker Reed ruled 
against these obstructions as presiding officer, and then, as chairman 
of the Rules Committee, codified his rulings into the standing rules of 
the House. These provisos, together with a comprehensive overhaul of the 
rules undertaken by Reed, came to be known as the ``Reed rules,'' and 
serve as the basis for the power of the modern Speaker and the 
operations of the present-day House. Most notably, the Reed rules 
established a framework by which the Speaker, as leader of the majority 
party in the House, could move his legislative agenda forward.
  Additional power accrued to the Speaker through the Rules Committee 
when, in 1891, the committee was given the authority to report at any 
time. Two years later it was also granted the right to sit during 
sessions of the House.\19\

\19\ Ibid.,  4321.

  Even when viewed through the prism of the House in later periods of 
centralized power, it is difficult to convey the absolute control 
exercised by the Speaker during this period.
  So absolute was ``Czar'' Reed's control of the business of the House 
through the scheduling powers of the Rules Committee, that, when told of 
a particularly long debate that had consumed the time of the Senate, the 
Speaker was able to remark without humor or irony, ``Thank God the House 
of Representatives is not a deliberative body.'' \20\

\20\ Asher C. Hinds, ``The Speaker of the House of Representatives,'' 
American Political Science Review, vol. 3, May 1909, pp. 155-156.

                    The Revolt Against Speaker Cannon

  The power of the Speaker of the House, through and by the Rules 
Committee, continued to grow under Speaker Joseph G. ``Uncle Joe'' 
Cannon (R-IL), who served as the Chamber's presiding officer from 1903 
to 1910. Speaker Cannon was a colorful figure, and a strong believer in 
party discipline. He did not hesitate to use his power in appointing 
committee members and even committee chairs, and in punishing those who 
did not obey his wishes.
  In assessing the leadership of Speaker Cannon, one scholar has 
remarked, ``Particularly significant was Speaker Cannon's power as 
chairman of the Committee on Rules. The Committee was small--never over 
five Republican Members prior to 1910. The three-to-two edge of the 
Republicans was potent, however, since the Speaker appointed the members 
carefully--insuring that they agreed with his views.'' \21\

\21\ Charles O. Jones, ``Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith: An Essay 
on the Limits of Leadership in the House of Representatives,'' The 
Journal of Politics, vol. 30, Aug. 1968, pp. 617-646.

  Cannon was well prepared to use the committee as an instrument of 
power, having observed its use under Speaker Reed. Indeed, Cannon was no 
stranger to the use of raw political power. As chairman of the House 
Appropriations Committee in 1898, Cannon ``wooshed through a then 
staggering $50 million appropriation to allow President William McKinley 
to fight the Spanish American War--without consulting or even informing 
his fellow committee members about it.'' \22\

\22\ Michael Kilian, ``Tough Act to Follow,'' Chicago Tribune, Jan. 23, 
1995, sec. 2, p. 1.

  Cannon continued that use of political power when he became Speaker 
and Rules chair. ``Before March, 1910, the power of the Speaker was in 
part due to the increase in the power of the Committee on Rules,'' as 
one writer has observed, because the committee ``had privileges which 
were not accorded by the House to any other committee. Through a special 
order, the Committee . . . regulated what should be considered, how long 
debate on a bill should last, when a vote should be taken, or whether a 
bill should be voted with or without amendment. It proposed amendments 
to legislative bills over which other committees had jurisdiction.'' 

\23\ Chiu, The Speaker of the House of Representatives Since 1896, pp. 

  Speaker Cannon used his power over the Rules Committee coupled with 
his power of recognition to manage the business of the House down to the 
smallest detail. Writing of Cannon's daily meetings with his Rules 
Committee lieutenants and rank and file Members seeking the Speaker's 
permission to consider their bills, one reporter related:

  If the Speaker decides in the applicant's favor, he takes a little pad 
and writes the Congressman's name and number of the bill on it. Later, 
when the House assembles and the Speaker calls it to order, he has this 
little pad in his hand or lying beside him on his desk. The various 
successful applicants arise and shout ``Mr. Speaker!'' while the 
unsuccessful ones sit glumly in their seats . . . The Speaker does not 
even look at the shouting applicants. He studies his pad and calls out, 
``The Gentleman from Ohio,'' or ``The Gentleman from Illinois,'' until 
the entire list is exhausted. There is more finality in a Cannon ``yes'' 
or ``no'' than in that of any other man in America. \24\

\24\ ``A Glimpse Into Speaker Cannon's Famous Red Room,'' New York 
Times, Dec. 13, 1908, p. SM8.

  Minority Leader (and later Speaker), Champ Clark, summed up Speaker 
Cannon's partisan use of the Rules Committee when he told his House 
colleagues in 1910, ``I violate no secret when I tell you the committee 
is made up of three very distinguished Republicans and two ornamental 
Democrats.'' \25\

\25\ Representative Champ Clark, remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, vol. 45, March 17, 1910, p. 3294.

  It is clear that, ``the legislative agenda, the progress of bills, 
members' committee assignments, almost every function of the House, all 
. . . was under the control of the Speaker and the five-member House 
Rules Committee, which was made up of Cannon and four of his hand-picked 
colleagues.'' \26\ So absolute was Speaker Cannon's rule, that one, 
perhaps apocryphal, story claimed that, ``when a constituent asked one 
representative for a copy of the rules of the House toward the end of 
Cannon's Speakership, the member simply mailed the man a picture of the 
white-bearded Cannon.'' \27\

\26\ Ibid., p. 1.

\27\ Kilian, ``Tough Act to Follow,'' sec. 2, p. 1.

  In 1909, the House, which had become increasingly frustrated with 
Speaker Cannon's iron grip over the legislative agenda, enacted a 
potential restriction on his scheduling power through the Rules 
Committee when it adopted the ``Calendar Wednesday'' procedure. Under 
this procedure, each Wednesday was reserved exclusively for the various 
standing legislative committees to call up measures in their 
jurisdiction for floor consideration. This procedure could be used to 
bring to the floor measures for which the Rules Committee had granted no 
hearing or special rule. While the adoption of Calendar Wednesday was an 
attack on the power of the Speaker, in practice, Cannon was largely able 
to render it ineffective.
  Noted parliamentary expert with the House, Asher C. Hinds, argued that 
far too much was made of the Speaker's power vis-a-vis the Rules 
Committee. He wrote in 1909, ``The power of the Speaker, as it is 
related to the Committee on Rules, is much overestimated. When a 
committee has once reported a bill, that bill is in the hands of the 
House.'' \28\ Hinds further argued that the Rules Committee did nothing 
in practice that was revolutionary or inappropriate, but only did what 
the party caucuses had routinely done in previous years. It is important 
to keep in mind, however, that while Hinds was intimately familiar with 
the operations of the Cannon House, he was also the clerk at the 
Speaker's table, so his viewpoint arguably cannot be considered entirely 

\28\ Hinds, ``The Speaker of the House of Representatives,'' p. 162.

  Speaker Cannon and his Republican majority had ample warning of the 
unrest brewing among the more progressive Members of both parties during 
the 60th and 61st Congresses. Some observers of Congress have alleged 
that this mounting frustration was attributable less to Cannon's 
absolute control of the House through the Rules Committee than the fact 
that he used that power to prevent the House from voting on progressive 
legislation which rank and file Members of Congress of both parties 
supported. ``It was `Uncle Joe' Cannon's economic and social 
philosophy,'' one scholar argues, ``that first aroused [Republican 
insurgents] against his autocracy'' \29\ Whatever the genesis of the 
reform movement, Speaker Cannon was steadfastly unwilling to heed the 
growing chorus calling for reform. In characteristically blunt style, he 
said, ``I am damned tired of listening to all this babble for reform. 
America is a hell of a success.'' \30\

\29\ Robinson, The House Rules Committee, p. 61.

\30\ Greg Pierce, ``Joe Made Them Cry Uncle,'' Washington Times, May 7, 
1986, p. 2D.

  Member frustration spilled onto the floor when, ``Twelve insurgents 
refused to vote for Cannon for Speaker at the opening of the special 
session in 1909 called by President Taft to consider the tariff . . . 
[and] a combination of insurgents and Democrats defeated a motion to 
adopt the rules of the previous Congress. At that point Minority Leader 
Clark offered a resolution which would have increased the size of the 
Committee on Rules, removed the Speaker from the committee and taken 
from the Speaker his power of appointing all committees except Ways and 
Means.'' \31\

\31\ Jones, ``Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith,'' pp. 617-646.

  The Speaker was able to fend off this attack by agreeing to a 
compromise motion to establish a unanimous consent calendar, a motion of 
recommital for the minority party, and increases in the number of votes 
necessary to set aside the Calendar Wednesday procedure.
  Speaker Cannon later meted out his revenge against the rebels. As one 
reporter noted days after the quashed revolt, ``With few exceptions, 
members of the House who opposed the Speaker's candidacy or opposed the 
adoption of the . . . rules find themselves tonight with undesirable 
committee assignments or without the promotion long service on a 
particular committee entitled them to expect.'' \32\

\32\ ``Cannon Disciplines House Insurgents,'' New York Times, Aug. 6, 
1909, p. 2.

  While he was able to delay the inevitable, in the end, even Speaker 
Cannon's mastery of the Rules Committee could not prevent the full House 
from working its will. Frustration with ``Cannonism'' came to a final 
head on St. Patrick's Day, 1910, when a small band of progressive 
Republican Members, led by Representative George W. Norris (R-NE), 
joined with Democrats to again challenge the powers of the Speaker. 
Cannon had given opponents a parliamentary opening when he tried to shut 
down the use of the Calendar Wednesday procedure. In response, Norris 
rose and offered a resolution as a matter of constitutional privilege to 
change House rules by removing the Speaker as chair and member of the 
Rules Committee, and by expanding the panel's membership from 5 to 15, 
to be chosen by State delegations.
  In later years, Representative Norris recalled of his reform 
resolution, ``I had carried it for a long time, certain, that in the 
flush of its power, the Cannon machine would overreach itself. The paper 
upon which I had written my resolution had become so tattered it 
scarcely hung together.'' \33\

\33\ Jones, ``Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith,'' pp. 617-646.

  Supporters of the Speaker quickly raised a point of order against the 
Norris resolution, arguing that it did not carry the constitutional 
privilege its author claimed. Speaker Cannon allowed debate on the point 
of order to continue for 2 days, after which he sustained it. Cannon's 
decision that the Norris resolution was not in order was then appealed 
to the full House which overturned the Speaker's ruling by a vote of 182 
to 162. The Norris resolution was then adopted, 191 to 156, after 
Representative Norris amended it to provide for a 10-member Rules 
Committee elected by the entire House. Cannon continued to serve as 
House Speaker, but without the unchecked power he had previously 

      Decentralization of the Speaker's Power Over Rules Committee

  Although the overthrow of Speaker Cannon drastically reduced the power 
of the Speaker to singlehandedly manage the flow and content of 
legislative business, the Rules Committee's power remained largely 
intact. The post-Cannon period was a time of general decentralization of 
authority in the House of Representatives, and one where power resided 
in the caucus and the majority floor leader even more than in newly-
elected Speaker Champ Clark (D-MO). When Democrats regained control of 
the House in 1911, they set up a system of governance largely through 
party apparatus, making extensive use of binding votes in caucus to 
compel Democratic Members to support the majority legislative agenda on 
the floor. This era of ``King Caucus'' meant that gone were the days 
when the Speaker was ``considered . . . an officer second only in power 
and influence to the President of the United States himself, and so far 
as the enactment of legislation was concerned, to exercise powers 
superior to [the President].'' \34\

\34\ Galloway, History of the United States House of Representatives, p. 

  It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that after 1910 the 
weakened Office of the Speaker did not continue to exert influence over 
the Rules Committee in the service of the majority party agenda, or to 
continue to accumulate power for the panel. The Speaker, in conjunction 
with the newly influential floor leader, Representative Oscar Underwood 
(D-AL), continued to use the power of the Rules Committee as one of his 
most powerful management tools. ``Excepting only the caucus,'' the Rules 
Committee during Underwood's speakership became, ``the most necessary 
and essential feature of the new floor leader system in the House.'' 
\35\ Democratic leaders made certain that the Rules Committee continued 
to serve as an organ of the majority party by carefully stocking the 
committee with solid party loyalists.

\35\ James S. Fleming, ``Oscar W. Underwood: The First Modern House 
Leader, 1911-1915,'' in Roger H. Davidson, Susan Webb Hammond, and 
Raymond W. Smock, eds.,  Masters of the House: Congressional Leadership 
Over Two Decades (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), p. 108.

  Although the speakership was weakened during this period, Speakers 
continued to accrue power for the panel. In 1920, for example, Speaker 
Frederick H. Gillett of Massachusetts ruled that the committee might 
report a resolution providing for the consideration of a bill that had 
not yet been introduced.\36\ The ruling was an important one that 
foreshadowed the modern Rules Committee's ability to manage not only the 
consideration, but the content, of legislative business in the House.

\36\ Clarence Cannon, Cannon's Precedents of the House of 
Representatives, 6 vols. (Washington: GPO, 1935-1941), vol. VIII,  

  Speakers also continued to use their influence to prevent the Rules 
Committee from reporting rules for legislation they and the majority 
party opposed. In 1922, for example, the committee blocked a resolution 
demanding answers about the Department of Justice's handling of an 
investigation relating to war contract fraud \37\ which the majority 

\37\ ``House Inquiry Plan is Again Blocked,'' New York Times, May 28, 
1922, p. 2.

  The power of the Speaker to control the legislative agenda was further 
increased in 1924, when the ``pocket veto'' power of the chairman of the 
Rules Committee was curbed by Speaker Gillett after the Rules Committee 
chairman had exercised his discretion to hold resolutions from floor 
consideration long after the Rules Committee had reported them.
  In 1925, during the speakership of Nicholas T. Longworth (R-IL), one 
Member bemoaned this ability to obstruct legislation, stating that the 
Speaker and the members of the Rules Committee ``were empowered by . . . 
House `gag rules' to allow legislation to live or to make it die'' while 
other Members looked on, ``. . . as helpless as little children.'' The 
Member in question concluded that this was simply, ``too damned much 
power.'' \38\

\38\ ``Howard Charges Gag Rule in the House,'' New York Times, March 19, 
1930, p. 19.

  Soon after assuming the speakership, Longworth had moved to restore 
the Speaker's power over the Rules Committee. ``To consolidate his 
control, Longworth had the Committee on Committees remove three 
[insurgent progressive] Members from the Rules Committee . . . and 
replace them with dependable party regulars.'' During Longworth's 
tenure, Rules Committee chair Bertrand Snell was a member of a group 
known as the ``Big Four'' which acted as Speaker Longworth's inner 
circle of advisors and the party's principal policy body.\39\

\39\ Donald C. Bacon, ``Nicholas Longworth: The Genial Czar,'' in 
Masters of the House, p. 134.

  This trend toward restoring the Speaker's power over the committee 
continued under Speaker John Nance Garner (D-TX), who ``functioned as a 
broker, a negotiator who put together coalitions and compromises by 
working with and through committee chairs,'' including the Rules 

\40\ Anthony Champagne, ``John Nance Garner,'' in Masters of the House, 
p. 170.

  In another important development, in 1933, Speaker Henry T. Rainey (D-
IL) upheld the Rules Committee's right to report a resolution for 
consideration of a bill on which the House had refused to act under 
suspension of the rules. Speaker Rainey also shepherded through the 
Chamber an increase in the threshold needed to discharge legislation 
from committees--from 145 to 218--to stop legislation awarding veterans 
a cash bonus from being brought up in Congress.\41\ This latter 
development further empowered the Rules Committee and the Speaker in 
relation to rank and file Members.

\41\ ``Discharge Rule Approved,'' New York Times, April 19, 1933, p. 3.

  Still later in the Rainey speakership, a Member was named to the Rules 
Committee over the Speaker's objections. That Member was ``Judge'' 
Howard W. Smith of Fauquier County, VA, who would play a crucial role in 
the future of the relationship between the Speaker and the Rules 

   The Speaker vs. the Committee: The Emergence of the ``Conservative 

  During the speakership of William B. Bankhead (D-AL), 1936-1940, the 
Rules Committee ceased to be an unquestioned agent and ally of majority 
party leadership, due to the advent of a ``conservative coalition'' of 
southern Democrats and Republicans on the panel. For the next three 
decades, Speakers would find the committee to be, at least on some 
issues, an independent and competing power base in need of cajoling and 
catering and, at worst, a legislative adversary.
  The rise of the conservative rules coalition was a gradual one. The 
Rules Committee played an instrumental part in expediting much of 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation during his first 
``hundred days,'' and through his initial term in office, by reporting 
closed rules on major legislation forwarded by the President. As the 
economic emergency of the Depression receded, however, a backlash 
against Presidential policies that were viewed by southern Democrats as 
increasingly liberal and unwise, set in during the 74th Congress. This 
growing suspicion of New Deal policies coincided with, and was furthered 
by the election of Representative John J. O'Connor (D-NY), a New Deal 
critic, as chair of the committee.\42\

\42\ Galloway, History of the United States House of Representatives, p. 

  ``By 1937, the House Democratic Leadership could no longer count on 
Rules Committee Southern Democrats in granting of rules.'' \43\ As a 
result, Speaker Bankhead was increasingly unable to promise prompt 
consideration of administration legislative priorities.

\43\ A History of the Committee on Rules, p. 138.

  One visible split between the Speaker and the Rules Committee occurred 
during consideration of the President's wage and hour bill, a 
legislative proposal that would have set a national minimum wage, 
established standards for maximum hours of work, and implemented several 
child labor reforms. After the legislation was passed by the Senate in 
August 1937, it was subsequently reported from the House Labor 
Committee. That is where its progress abruptly stopped. ``With the five 
southern Democrats and four Republicans on the Rules Committee opposed 
to it, no rule was granted and no hearing was even held on the Wage and 
Hour bill.'' \44\ When a compromise wage and hour measure was also 
scotched by the Rules Committee, the House Democratic leadership had to 
resort to a discharge petition to bring the plan forward for 
consideration. In explaining the failure to grant a rule for wage and 
hour legislation, Rules Committee member Representative Edward E. Cox 
(D-GA) made an argument presaging the coming civil rights battles of the 
next two decades, stating, ``This bill is an attempt to . . . destroy 
the reserved powers of the states over the local concerns,'' \45\

\44\ Ibid., p. 138.

\45\ ``Rule Denied, 8 to 6,'' New York Times, April 30, 1938, p. 1.

  The ``gatekeeping committee'' had shut the gate on the Speaker 
himself. ``The 1937-1938 fight over the wage and hour legislation was 
extremely significant,'' one scholar has noted, ``it not only 
highlighted and aggravated the split in the Democratic Party, but it 
meant that on some issues the [Rules Committee] was a bipartisan 
coalition,'' rather than an arm of the Speaker and the majority 

\46\ A History of the Committee on Rules, p. 139.

  Other observers of Congress have argued that, far from being an 
example of a stubborn minority holding legislation hostage, the wage and 
hour fight was actually an instance of the Rules Committee fulfilling a 
legitimate role as a filter for legislation that was not ready for 
consideration by the entire Chamber. Following debate on the bill, the 
full House overwhelmingly voted to recommit the first wage and hour bill 
to committee. ``To say that the Rules Committee was defying the majority 
will of the House in not granting a rule,'' one author has reasoned, 
``must be qualified in light of the difficulties in getting a majority 
in favor of the principle of the bill'' in the House.\47\

\47\ Robinson, The House Rules Committee, p. 61.

  Regardless of the interpretation of the significance of the battle, 
the wage and hour fight heralded the beginning of a three-decade fight 
between Democratic Speakers of the House, most notably Speaker Sam 
Rayburn (D-TX), and the committee on issues such as labor protections, 
civil rights, and social policy.
  The advent of the conservative coalition did not mean that the Speaker 
lost all control of the Rules Committee. ``It is important to note that 
on many issues, the Rules Committee continued to act on behalf of the 
majority party, albeit at times reluctantly.'' \48\ The rise of the 
conservative bloc did, however, make the ability of the Speaker to 
schedule and manage legislative business on behalf of the majority 
significantly more difficult.

\48\ A History of the Committee on Rules, p. 139.

  Deeply concerned by this ``loss'' of the Rules Committee to the 
conservative coalition, the Roosevelt administration actively campaigned 
for the defeat of three renegade Rules Committee Democrats in the 1938 
elections--Representatives O'Connor, Smith of Virginia, and Cox of 
Georgia. ``The chief desire of the [Roosevelt Administration] `purge,' 
'' a New York Times writer observed at the time, ``is to eliminate the 
important Rules Committee members who have consistently opposed 
Administration measures. If these can be beaten . . . the group feels 
that the Administration will have unquestioned control of the direction 
of House affairs in the next session.'' \49\ When the smoke cleared on 
the morning after the election, however, only Representative O'Connor 
was defeated, a development that, when coupled with the loss of several 
New Deal allies on the panel, left the ``conservative bloc'' on Rules 

\49\ Charles A. Michael, ``New Deal `Purge' Said to Seek Control of 
House Rules Group,'' New York Times, June 30, 1938, p. 1.

  Even worse for the Speaker, the election returned fewer Democrats to 
the House as a whole, a development that sounded the death knell to the 
Speaker's ability to skirt the committee by using discharge petitions. 
Further complicating this strained relationship was the emboldened 
nature of the Rules Committee, which proceeded to hold public hearings 
on issues embarrassing to the Roosevelt administration, actively 
undermined the Speaker's use of the suspension procedure, negotiated 
concessions from committees on the content of bills, and granted rules 
for the consideration of legislation that favored conservative 

                      Enactment of the 21-Day Rule

  After World War II, the Speaker worked to undermine the power of the 
Rules Committee's conservative coalition over the legislative agenda. On 
January 3, 1949, Speaker Sam Rayburn, who took office following the 
death of Speaker Bankhead, shepherded through the House the adoption of 
the so-called ``21-day rule.'' ``Under this rule, the chairman of a 
legislative committee which had favorably reported a bill could call it 
up for House consideration if the Rules Committee reported adversely on 
it or failed to give it a `green light' to the House floor within 21 
days.'' \50\

\50\ Galloway, History of the United States House of Representatives, 
pp. 57-58.

  The Speaker, together with allies in the Truman administration, 
employed the procedure of binding Democrats through a vote of their 
party caucus to support the resolution that enacted the 21-day rule. 
Indeed, Speaker Rayburn expended considerable effort and personal 
prestige in pushing for the rule change, making a rare speech on the 
House floor urging Members' support. One scholar observed that Rayburn's 

were especially directed toward his southern colleagues, many of whom 
were voting against the 21-Day rule because they feared it would 
increase the chances for the passage of civil rights legislation, which 
they opposed. Rayburn contended that civil rights legislation was not 
the issue. `The rules,' he said, `of a legislative body should be such 
at all times as to allow the majority of a legislative body to work its 
will.' \51\

\51\ Robinson, The House Rules Committee, p. 67.

  Rayburn's efforts were ultimately successful, and when the 21-day rule 
was initially passed, observers called it a major power surge for the 
Speaker and a defeat for the renegade Democrats on the Rules Committee. 
William S. White, of the New York Times, wrote after the vote:

  Mr. Rayburn, as he is well aware, has received a power and a 
responsibility not given in generations to a Speaker of the House. He 
will be in command. He will be responsible in almost the complete sense 
of that term, for what the House does, in so far as the Administration 
Democrats are not outweighed from time to time by the orthodox 
Republicans and whatever bloc of rebellious southern Democrats can be 

\52\ William S. White, ``House Gives Speaker Large Grant of Power,'' New 
York Times, Jan. 9, 1949, p. 1

  For critics of the 21-day rule, White subsequently observed, ``this 
meant . . . a return to `czarism,' for in cutting down the Rules 
Committee the Members . . . had simply left it all up to one man's yea 
or nay rather than to twelve.'' \53\

\53\ William S. White, ``Sam Rayburn, the Untalkative Speaker,'' New 
York Times, Feb. 27, 1949, p. SM10.

  During the 81st Congress, the 21-day rule was successful in helping 
Speaker Rayburn bring anti-poll tax legislation to the floor, as well as 
forcing a vote on controversial housing and minimum wage bills. The Rule 
was also instrumental in obtaining consideration of legislation 
establishing the National Science Foundation, as well as bills granting 
Alaska and Hawaii statehood. The rules helped the Speaker get around an 
obstructive Rules Committee. As one Member of Congress later noted, 
``Altogether, during the 81st Congress, eight measures were brought to 
the floor and passed by resort to the 21-Day rule, and its existence 
forced the Rules Committee to act in other cases.'' \54\

\54\ Representative Chet Holified, remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, vol. 106, Sept. 1, 1960, p. 19393.

  The 21-day rule was eventually repealed after a bitter political fight 
in 1951 between Speaker Rayburn and the conservative coalition of 
southern Democrats and Republicans. ``As a result, the power of the 
Rules Committee to blockade bills'' sought by the Speaker and the 
majority party was restored.\55\ This turnaround was made possible 
largely by solid increases in Republican strength in the House following 
the 1950 elections, coupled with mounting concern by many southern 
Democrats about the possible use of the 21-day rule to force 
consideration of civil rights legislation.

\55\ Galloway, History of the United States House of Representatives, 
pp. 57-58.

  From 1955 to 1960, the new chairman of the Rules Committee--``Judge'' 
Howard W. Smith of Virginia--the same Member who had been placed on the 
committee over the objections of Speaker Rainey nearly three decades 
earlier, and who had been unsuccessfully targeted for electoral defeat 
in the FDR ``purge,''--was the ``acknowledged leader of the 
[conservative] coalition.'' \56\ The coalition's ability to 
independently block legislation would continue largely unchallenged 
until 1961, when 79-year-old Speaker Sam Rayburn would mount an assault 
on the power of the Rules Committee in one of the final political 
battles of his four-decade career in the House.

\56\ CRS, A Short History of the Development of the Committee on Rules, 
p. 11.

          Speaker Rayburn and the Purge of the Rules Committee

  Toward the end of the fifties, Speaker Rayburn's continued frustration 
with the Rules Committee spilled over into public view. ``Judge'' 
Smith's ability to block legislation supported by the Speaker was 

  Often, when he did not want to bring a bill out of his [Rules] 
committee, the Judge would leave town and go to his 70-acre farm in 
Fauquier County, Virginia, to avoid calling a meeting. Early in 1957, he 
resorted to this tactic to delay consideration of President Eisenhower's 
civil rights proposal, insisting that he had to return home to inspect a 
barn that had burned down. ``I knew Howard Smith would do almost 
anything to block a civil rights bill,'' said Speaker Sam Rayburn upon 
hearing this excuse, ``but I never knew he would resort to arson.'' \57\

\57\ Charles and Barbara Whalen, The Longest Debate: A Legislative 
History of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (New York: Mentor Press, 1985), p. 

  Speaker Rayburn arguably did all that he could to avoid the head-on 
battle with the committee's conservative coalition that eventually 
erupted in 1961, preferring instead to negotiate and cajole Smith to 
forward his majority party agenda. In 1959, for example, when members of 
the liberal Democratic Study Group [DSG] demanded reform of the Rules 
Committee by enlarging its size to defeat the coalition of four 
Republicans and two southern Democrats that dominated the 12-person 
panel, Speaker Rayburn refused to back the plan, seeking instead to 
``assure the House liberals of steps under existing rules'' that could 
be used to outmaneuver the obstructive committee, including, ``the use 
of . . . seldom-invoked Calendar-Wednesday.'' \58\ In response to 
Rayburn's rebuff, the liberal Members issued the following statement:

\58\ John D. Morris, ``Rayburn Rebuffs Move By Liberals,'' New York 
Times, Jan. 3, 1959, p. 1.

  We have received assurances from Speaker Rayburn that legislation 
which has been duly considered and reported by the legislative 
committees will be brought before the House for consideration within a 
reasonable period of time. Our confidence in the Speaker is great, and 
we believe he will support such procedural steps as may be necessary to 
obtain House consideration of reported bills.\59\

\59\ Galloway, History of the United States House of Representatives, p. 

  This ``go along to get along'' approach was in keeping with Speaker 
Rayburn's leadership style. ``[Rayburn's] effectiveness has rarely if 
ever rested on the use of raw power, coercion or threats,'' one reporter 
wrote at the time. ``Rather, it has stemmed from his great personal 
prestige, close friendships with other House Democrats in positions of 
power, and the esteem, and respect held for him by nearly all 
colleagues.'' \60\

\60\ John D. Morris, ``Stakes High in Rules Struggle for Rayburn, 79, 
and Smith, 77,'' New York Times, Jan. 30, 1961, p. 12.

  As 1961 dawned, however, Rayburn's position on the Rules Committee 
gradually changed as ``it became evident that enactment of President 
Kennedy's legislative program would hang upon overcoming the 
conservative coalition control of the Rules Committee.'' \61\

\61\ Galloway, History of the United States House of Representatives, p. 

  In many ways, the 1961 battle between the Rules Committee and the 
Speaker was the direct opposite of the 1910 overthrow of Speaker Cannon. 
In 1910, Members had risen up because a Speaker, who, through his tight 
control of the power of the Rules Committee, had prevented legislation 
he opposed from being considered by rank and file Members of the House. 
In 1961, however, it was the Rules Committee that was blocking 
consideration of legislation, thwarting the will of a powerful Speaker, 
the majority leadership, and an increasing number of rank and file 
Members who wished to act on the ``progressive'' bills supported by 
their constituents.
  An editorial cartoon by the satirist Herblock during this period 
summed up many liberal Members' feelings on the Rules Committee: it 
pictured a baseball player in catcher's face mask and pads standing in 
front of, rather than behind, home plate, catching a fastball pitch 
before the batter could have a chance to swing at it. The batter 
represented Members of Congress and the catcher wore a jersey labeled 
``Rules Committee.''
  ``Speaker Rayburn kept his own counsel until the eve of the session,'' 
George B. Galloway has written, ``when he came out on the side of the 
reformers with a plan to enlarge the membership of the Rules Committee 
from 12 to 15'' members.\62\ In doing so, the Speaker resisted--after 
initially embracing--the suggestion of members of the Democratic Study 
Group to balance the committee by purging it of one of its renegade 
southern Democrats, Representative William M. Colmer (D-MS). The Rayburn 
plan would instead increase the size of the committee by three, 
enlarging the number of Democratic Rules members from eight to ten, and 
Republicans from four to five, breaking the conservative coalition's 
traditional six-six deadlock on the panel.

\62\ Ibid., p. 143.

  In the weeks leading up to the opening of the 87th Congress, the 
Kennedy administration, lobbyists from labor unions and progressive 
groups, and the Speaker and his loyalists, including Rayburn's close 
ally on the committee (and later Rules Committee chair) Representative 
Richard Bolling (D-MO), lined up votes for the plan to enlarge Rules. 
The scramble for votes between the Rayburn camp and the allies of the 
conservative coalition was intense, for the vote was to be an extremely 
close one. One historian later illustrated this situation by relating 
the see-sawing battle waged by the Rayburn and Smith forces to secure 
the vote of one southern Member, Representative Frank W. Boykin (D-AL):

  Boykin was a friend of Rayburn and a conservative; he was pulled 
emotionally to vote both ways. He committed himself to Rayburn; then 
under pressure from Smith's camp, he changed his mind and committed 
himself to Smith. Rayburn's lieutenants applied new pressure to Boykin 
and again he switched. Smith's lieutenants fought back hard for Boykin's 
vote, and once more he switched. Again Rayburn's people won Boykin back, 
only to lose him again . . . At this point, Boykin had been on both 
sides three separate times . . . [but] the fight for Boykin's vote . . . 
illustrated the desperation of the struggle. It was so close that every 
single vote was of crucial importance.\63\

\63\ Neil MacNeil, Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives, 
(New York: David McKay, Co., 1963), p. 432.

  In seeking support for his plan, the Speaker utilized all of the 
powers of his office. Initially, Rayburn intended to employ caucus rules 
to bind Democrats to support for the enlargement plan, repeating the 
tactic he used successfully in his earlier campaign to enact the 21-day 
rule. Rayburn abandoned the strategy, however, after many southern 
Democrats bristled at the arm twisting and threatened to bolt.\64\ 
Speaker Rayburn also reportedly utilized the Kennedy administration's 
control of local public works projects to help convince Members to vote 
with him. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall personally made a 
number of calls to Members during the days immediately preceding the 
vote to discuss ``water projects of vital interest to members in many 
sections of the country, particularly in the West and South.'' \65\

\64\ John D. Morris, ``Rayburn Shifts in Rules Battle,'' New York Times, 
Jan. 18, 1961, p. 17.

\65\ John D. Morris, ``Rayburn Rejects All Compromise on Rules Battle,'' 
New York Times, Jan. 29, 1961, p. 1.

  The resolution to enlarge the panel was reported by the Rules 
Committee by a vote of six to two on January 14, 1961, after ``Judge'' 
Smith promised Rayburn he would do so. Smith and Representative William 
M. Colmer (D-MS) were the only Democrats to oppose the resolution; no 
Republicans attended the committee markup. Following a spirited debate 
on the resolution on January 31, 1961, which included a passionate floor 
speech from Speaker Rayburn, the House adopted the enlargement plan by a 
vote of 217 to 212.\66\

\66\ Congressional Record, vol. 107, Jan. 31, 1961, pp. 1589-1590.

  Speaker Rayburn's victory was a significant step in restoring control 
of the Rules Committee as an arm of the Speaker and his majority 
leadership. This win alone, however, did not defeat the conservative 
coalition. Just 2 years later, under House Speaker John W. McCormack (D-
MA), majority party Members had to turn back a spirited attempt by the 
coalition and its allies to return the panel to its pre-1961 size of 12 
members. Despite some slight improvement in the enlarged Rules 
Committee's record of cooperation with the leadership, it continued to 
obstruct floor consideration of certain education, labor and civil 
rights bills for the duration of the Kennedy administration.

                Truce: The Return of the Speaker's Power

  By the late sixties, the Speaker's relationship with the House Rules 
Committee had improved somewhat, as ``Judge'' Smith was defeated for 
reelection in 1966 and the committee chair was assumed by Representative 
William M. Colmer (D-MS). ``Although of similar ideological bent to 
Smith, Colmer viewed the role of the [Rules] Committee in a different 
way, in part reflecting his own threatened ouster from the committee and 
the adoption of committee rules in 1967 permitting a committee majority 
to circumvent a recalcitrant chairman.'' \67\

\67\ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Rules, Official Web 
site, www.house.gov/rules, accessed on Aug. 12, 2003.

  Passage of the Legislative Reform Act of 1970 \68\ coupled with 
numerous institutional reforms made in the House Democratic Caucus in 
the post-Watergate era, returned to the Speaker the authority to 
nominate majority members of the Rules Committee. These reforms made the 
Rules Committee a reliable arm of the House leadership for the first 
time since the 1910 revolt against Speaker Cannon, and gave the Speaker 
true de facto control of the panel.

\68\ Public Law 91-510.

  The willingness to return considerable power to the Speaker was 
undertaken in response to a larger decentralization of the House that 
led many Members to turn to the Speaker to provide order in the 
coordination of business: to make a busy and complicated legislative 
body work. Rank and file Members were particularly willing to return 
power to the Speaker after observing periods during the tenures of 
Speaker McCormack and Speaker Carl Albert (D-OK) when there was 
``paralysis in moving Democratic legislation even though there were 
heavy Democratic majorities'' in the body.\69\

\69\ Mary Russell, ``Speaker Scooping Up Power in the House,'' 
Washington Post, Aug. 7, 1977, p. A1.

  ``In the House, the decentralizing reforms of the 1960s and 1970s 
were,'' according to congressional scholar Roger Davidson, 
``paradoxically, accompanied with innovations that enlarged the power of 
the Speaker.'' \70\ Davidson goes on to observe, ``The fruits of these 
innovations were not immediately realized. Speaker John McCormack 
resisted most of the changes . . . his successor, Carl Albert . . . was 
a transitional figure who hesitated to use the tools granted to him by 
the rules changes.'' \71\

\70\ Roger H. Davidson, ``The New Centralization on Capitol Hill,'' 
Review of Politics, vol. 50, 1988, p. 357.

\71\ Ibid.

  The main beneficiary of these grants of additional power was House 
Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill (D-MA), himself a longtime member of the House 
Rules Committee. O'Neill was given more control over the Rules Committee 
and the orchestration of the details of legislative business. As 
Speaker, O'Neill ``used control on important issues to restrict the 
freedom of House Members in offering amendments--in making changes in 
important pieces of legislation that he wanted kept intact.'' \72\

\72\ Russell, ``Speaker Scooping Up Power in the House,'' p. A5.

  Speaker O'Neill utilized the power of the Rules Committee not only as 
a tool of his majority power, but also as a buffer to Member demands, 
and as a hedge against minority party attacks. During the Carter 
administration, for example, O'Neill was often less concerned with 
losing votes on the House floor--an unlikely event given the large 
Democratic majority in the body--than with minority Members forcing 
Democrats ``on the record'' with politically difficult votes.
  Speaker O'Neill responded to this challenge by increasingly using his 
control of the Rules Committee to manage floor votes during the eighties 
with ``complex'' and ``restrictive'' rules on major pieces of 
legislation that barred votes on minority amendments. Whereas 
restrictive rules constituted only 15 percent of all rules in the 
midseventies, by the end of the eighties they made up 55 percent, 
according to a Rules Committee minority staff study.\73\

\73\ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Rules, Official Web 
site, www.house.gov/rules, accessed on Aug. 12, 2003.

  An additional challenge emerged for the Speaker when Republicans and 
``Boll Weevil'' Democrats formed a de facto majority coalition on some 
issues following the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980. The 
shifting electoral terrain meant that a Democratic Speaker, for the 
first time in many years, had to worry about losing important votes on 
the House floor. In response, Speaker O'Neill had the Rules Committee 
manage legislative business in increasingly creative ways, including the 
more frequent use of closed rules. An important innovation was the so-
called ``King of the Hill'' rule, where the last measure voted upon in a 
series of alternatives would prevail, enabling Members to take ``free'' 
votes on controversial issues that provided political cover. The 
leadership would naturally place its preferred version last in the 
  These efforts met with mixed success. During this period, the Rules 
Committee ``crafted rules to enhance the Speaker's power, although they 
have been only sporadically successful during the Reagan Presidency when 
conservative Democrats have bolted to the White House side.'' For 
example, the committee ``fashioned an extraordinary rule allowing 
separate votes on seven different budget proposals, with successful 
amendments being applied to all seven. Eventually, all seven budgets 
were defeated on the floor.'' \74\

\74\ William Chapman, ``Bolling, Near Retirement, Muses About a Battle 
That Never Was,'' Washington Post, Aug. 24, 1982, p. A7.

  As if these challenges were not enough, changing demands on Members of 
Congress offered Speaker O'Neill still more challenges in the management 
of the Rules Committee. For example, in 1983, the Speaker reluctantly 
reduced the membership of the committee from 16 members to 13 members 
because he was ``unable to persuade any senior Members to take vacant 
seats on Rules.'' \75\ While Members recognized the continued power of 
the panel, the growing need for rank and file Members to generate media 
attention, raise campaign funds, and become legislative entrepreneurs 
had simply made the ``inside baseball'' Rules Committee ``powerful but 
unfashionable.'' \76\

\75\ Alan Ehrenhalt, ``The Unfashionable House Rules Committee,'' 
Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, Jan. 15, 1983, p. 151.

\76\ Ibid.

  During this season of closed and structured rules, it is important to 
note that not all of the rules granted by the committee were exercises 
in partisanship; many structured rules were adopted by large bipartisan 
margins in the House. Increasingly, however, the minority party viewed 
the more frequent use of this type of resolution with concern and 
  ``As the House became more politicized and polarized during the 
1980s,'' a congressional scholar has written, ``the Rules Committee 
played a critical role in assisting the Democratic Leadership in 
structuring House floor debates on bills to ensure greater efficiency 
and predictability in outcomes.'' Predictably, the more restrictive the 
amendment process became, the ``more the Rules Committee was blamed by 
Republicans for violating the rights of minority party members to fully 
participate in the legislative process and represent their 
constituents.'' \77\

\77\ Donald R. Wolfensberger, ``The House Rules Committee Under 
Republican Majorities: Continuity and Change,'' Paper prepared for 
delivery at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Political 
Science Association, Oct. 25, 2002.

  Speaker James C. Wright, Jr. of Texas further centralized and focused 
the use of the Speaker's Rules Committee power, continuing and building 
on this trend of issuing closed rules. In 1987, the Washington Post 
reported, ``The Democrat's use of `restrictive rules' which . . . 
limited debate and amendments on 43 percent of the bills sent to the 
floor,'' was ``a continuation of a practice begun under O'Neill. During 
O'Neill's last two years as Speaker, the leadership obtained restrictive 
rules on 36 percent of the bills sent to the floor.'' \78\

\78\ Eric Pianin, ``House GOP's Frustrations Intensify,'' Washington 
Post, Dec. 21, 1987, p. A1.

  Roger Davidson stressed at the time that Wright ``exploited his 
extraordinary scheduling power . . . using [his] tight control over 
scheduling, including aggressive use of the Rules Committee to shape 
alternatives during floor deliberations.'' \79\ While critics expressed 
concern about these tactics, supporters pointed to their success. ``When 
he took office, Wright unveiled an ambitious list of legislative goals . 
. . Two years later, nearly all the bills had passed the House and many 
had been signed into law.'' \80\

\79\ Roger H. Davidson, ``The New Centralization on Capitol Hill,'' p. 

\80\ Ibid.

  By the end of the 103d Congress, during the speakership of Thomas S. 
Foley of Washington, the final tally of open versus restrictive rules 
revealed ``the largest number of restrictive rules of any Congress (73), 
comprising the highest percentage of total rules ever reported in a 
Congress (70 percent).''

                 Rule Reform and the Republican Majority

  At no period in the history of the House of Representatives has the 
Rules Committee been more central to the power of, and legislative 
agenda pursued by, a Speaker than in the days immediately following the 
change in control of the House to Republicans in 1994. ``To best 
understand the extent of continuity and change on the Rules Committee 
under House Republicans,'' Roger Davidson emphasizes, ``it is important 
to first understand how the Republican minority viewed the House under 
Democratic control and how it envisioned the institution should be run, 
both in terms of changes in the standing rules of the House and the way 
in which special rules were framed for considering legislation.'' \81\

\81\ Ibid., p. 358.

  In orchestrating the Republican Party's rise to power in the House, 
Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) had long focused public attention on the 
behavior of the Democratic majority through the Rules Committee. ``One 
of the central themes of the Conservative Opportunity Society (COS), 
which Gingrich and others formed in 1982,'' Donald R. Wolfensberger, 
chief of staff of the House Rules Committee during the 104th Congress, 
stresses, ``was its portrayal of a corrupt House in which the majority's 
arrogance was regularly reflected in procedural abuses of deliberative 
process, not to mention of a beleaguered minority.'' \82\

\82\ Donald R. Wolfensberger, ``The Institutional Legacy of Speaker Newt 
Gingrich: The Politics of House Reform and Realities of Governing,'' 
Extensions, A Journal of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and 
Studies Center, Fall 2000.

  Just as perceived abuses of power by the Rules Committee had angered 
rank and file Members and engendered calls for reform since the days of 
Speaker Reed, as Republicans pushed to become the majority party in the 
House, their public arguments about why they should be in power focused 
increasingly on the actions of the Rules Committee.
  At a press conference in the months before the 1994 election, 
Representative Gingrich and members of the House Republican Conference 
began an effort that was intended to call public attention to what they 
claimed were abuses by the Rules Committee and the Democratic leadership 
of the regular democratic process. ``Among the props was a poster used 
on the House floor of a gagged Statue of Liberty over a running 
scorecard of open versus restrictive rules (e.g., ``Democracy-0; 
Tyranny-6).'' \83\

\83\ Ibid.

  Given this approach of centering their public appeal on reform of the 
institution itself, it is not surprising that many of the Republicans' 
legislative efforts once they assumed the majority in 1995 were centered 
around reforming the House through the use of the Rules Committee.
  After his election as Speaker, Gingrich ``instigated many . . . 
changes in House rules and practices, which all had the common theme of 
undermining the independent power of committees and their chairs and 
enhancing the power of the majority leadership.'' At Speaker Gingrich's 
behest, ``Three full committees were eliminated, and 106 (12 percent) of 
the previous Congress's subcommittee slots were eliminated . . . 
Gingrich personally designed a new committee assignment system for the 
GOP in which the party leader was given a dominant formal role.'' \84\

\84\ David W. Rohde, ``The Gingrich Speakership in Context: Majority 
Leadership in the House in the Late Twentieth Century,'' Extensions, A 
Journal of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, 
Fall 2000.

  As with Speaker Reed before him, Speaker Gingrich's reforms were 
largely accomplished through amendments to the standing rules of the 
House. Speaker Gingrich took an active hand in crafting the rules 
package adopted at the beginning of the 104th Congress. As one scholar 
has noted, this rules reform package was ``considered under a special 
rule [Rules Committee chair Gerald B.H.] Solomon (R-NY) had devised on 
Gingrich's instructions'' \85\

\85\ Ibid.

  Like many powerful Speakers before him, Speaker Gingrich also proved 
willing to use his control of the Rules Committee for purposes other 
than the scheduling and shaping of legislative business, for example, to 
help enforce party discipline. In one instance in 1996, in a move 
reminiscent of actions taken by strong Speakers such as Cannon and 
Rayburn, Speaker Gingrich reportedly employed the power of the panel to 
punish two Republican Members who had endorsed the primary challenger to 
a sitting GOP colleague. Congressional Quarterly reported that, as 
punishment for this action, Speaker Gingrich had ``instructed [the House 
Rules Committee] to reject any floor amendment the two Members might 
seek to offer to legislation for the rest of the session.'' \86\

\86\ Karen Foerstel, ``Punished But Unrepentant,'' Congressional 
Quarterly Weekly Report, July 29, 1996.

  The Republican majority came to power promising open rules as the 
norm, but, as they had under previous Speakers of both parties, the 
demands of governing in a legislative body with narrow party ratios and 
a full agenda of business soon contributed to the issuance of fewer 
purely open rules on major pieces of legislation. Scholars argue that 
this lesson was learned relatively early after Republicans assumed the 
majority in 1995. As one observer recounted, ``The first major Contract 
[with America] bill out of the box after opening day was the Unfunded 
Mandate Reform Act which the Rules Committee put on the floor under an 
open rule. Two weeks and dozens of amendments later the bill was finally 
completed and its manager, Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Bill 
Clinger (R-PA) . . . was totally exhausted and disillusioned with open 
rules. From that point on, the Rules Committee took a more cautious 
approach, reporting ``modified open'' rules on bills that set an overall 
time limit on the amendment process.'' \87\

\87\ Rohde, ``The Gingrich Speakership in Context: Majority Leadership 
in the House in the Late Twentieth Century.''

  As Representative David Dreier (R-CA) ``learned quickly'' after 
becoming Rules Committee chair in the 106th Congress, the responsibility 
of running the House of Representatives that a majority party holds 
sometimes requires some of the same procedures he had expressed concern 
about a decade ago. ``I had not known what it took to govern,'' he 
acknowledged. Now, ``our number one priority is to move our agenda . . . 
with one of the narrowest majorities in history.'' \88\

\88\ Jim VandeHei, ``Using the Rules Committee to Block Democrats,'' 
Washington Post, June 16, 2003, p. A21.


  From the 1st Congress to the 108th Congress, the Committee on Rules 
and the Speaker of the House have been linked. Under czars and 
caretakers, reformers and managers, the Rules Committee has played an 
integral role in the Speaker's ability to regulate the business of the 
  This link between the panel and the Speaker has been marked by ebbs 
and flows in the tides of power, including battles for independence, a 
reinforcing of mutual authority, and periods of close cooperation. 
Speakers have controlled the committee with an iron hand, been forced to 
cajole and negotiate with it, and been bent to its will. Through those 
ebbs and flows has been a constant search for balance, with some Members 
believing, as Speaker Reed did, that the rules exist ``to promote the 
orderly conduct of the business of the House,'' and others charging that 
the rules give the Speaker ``greater power'' than any man ought to 
possess in relation to the full House. That struggle for balance and 
role continues today.
  The Rules Committee has helped Speakers impose order on the chaos of a 
young and growing legislative body. It has helped them enshrine the 
status quo, and, at other times, been their primary vehicle for reform 
and institutional change. Speakers have used the committee to centralize 
their power, and the House has, in turn, positioned the panel as a 
competing base of authority to their presiding officer. The committee's 
power to write and rewrite the rules has enabled Speakers to manage the 
business of the House in times of razor-thin party margins, and 
increased partisanship, media scrutiny and electoral pressure.
  While the days may have passed when an individual can dictate the 
actions of the House singlehandedly, the Rules Committee continues to be 
the most powerful arm of the Speaker and, in a large part, a centrally 
important governing entity of the House. In it, Congress has largely 
consolidated its constitutional power to decide the ground rules of its 
own proceedings. The panel enables the Speaker to direct the legislative 
business of the Chamber and press forward the agenda of the majority 
party. It imbues him with the power to reward and punish individual 
Members and can act as a shield from Member demands. Most importantly, 
it serves as a forum in which the ever-changing and often competing 
interests of the House leadership, the legislative committees, and 
individual Members of Congress can be raised, negotiated, vetted and 
ultimately resolved.
  If Congress in committee is Congress at work, as Woodrow Wilson 
famously observed, the Rules Committee is where that work is resolved 
and finalized. It is the last step in the House's legislative assembly 
line and the ``engine room,'' where the procedural, political and policy 
mechanics that make the Chamber ``work'' are crafted by the Speaker and 
his majority party allies.
  For all of these reasons, the panel remains, as much as ever, the 
``Speaker's committee.'' The history of the Rules Committee is, in 
essence, a history of the power of the Office of the Speaker and the 
evolution of the modern House of Representatives.
                                Chapter 4

                       The Speaker and the Senate

                            Elizabeth Rybicki

                 Analyst in American National Government

                     Congressional Research Service

  In 1897, a Senator described a ``very curious thing'' to his 
colleagues in the Senate Chamber. It seems Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed 
(R-ME; 1889-1891; 1895-1899) had spent a great deal of time in the 
Senate side of the Capitol persuading (the Senator said ``coercing'') 
Senators into supporting the pending tariff measure. The Senator found 
it even more extraordinary that as he passed a room where 
Representatives and Senators were meeting to negotiate a compromise 
between the Chambers on the tariff bill, he saw ``a powerful policeman 
standing guard at the door.'' When the Senator inquired as to why the 
guard was there, he was told ``it was for the purposes of keeping the 
presiding officer of the House from invading the secrecy and the 
councils of the conference committee.'' \1\

\1\ Congressional Record, 55th Cong., 1st sess., vol. 30, July 23, 1897, 
p. 2867.

  The characteristically vigorous efforts of Speaker Reed in this 
instance may indeed have been, as the Senator claimed, ``extraordinary 
and unusual.'' The need to coordinate with the Senate on legislation, 
however, is as established and necessary as the Office of the Speaker 
itself. According to the Constitution, each House of Congress must agree 
to a measure before it can be sent to the President. The two Chambers, 
however, often disagree over policy proposals, and the Constitution is 
silent as to how the House and Senate should reconcile differences in 
pending legislation.
  In no small way, the responsibility of resolving differences and 
coordinating with ``the other body'' has fallen on the Speaker of the 
House. Disagreements between the Chambers on most major legislation are 
resolved by conference committees, ad hoc panels composed of legislators 
from each Chamber that meet to negotiate a compromise acceptable to both 
the House and Senate. The Speaker appoints the House conferees, or 
``managers,'' and at times his careful selection of individuals has 
influenced the final policy outcome. Further, a great deal of inter-
chamber coordination takes place prior to, instead of, or after the 
formal creation of a conference committee. The Speaker works with Senate 
leaders in order to shepherd significant measures through the entire 
legislative process. In sum, the Speaker plays a major role in the two 
principal devices of legislative coordination: bicameral leadership 
cooperation and conference committees.
  Both the relationship between the Speaker and Senate leaders and the 
role of the Speaker in the appointment of managers to conference have 
changed over time. Since the major reforms of the seventies, the Speaker 
has had greater discretion over who he appoints to conference. For most 
of congressional history, the Speaker selected a few senior members from 
the standing committee with jurisdiction over the bill to negotiate with 
the Senate. Late 20th-century changes in practice, including multiple 
referral and the tremendous growth of conference committee delegations, 
have left the Speaker with more authority over conference committee 
composition. The modern Speaker chooses how many Representatives serve 
as conferees, as well as what committees the conferees come from and 
what matters they may consider in conference. In addition, the 
transformation of the Senate from a committee-centered, seniority-driven 
institution to a more open body with an equal distribution of power has 
transformed the role of the Speaker in inter-chamber negotiations. A 
close personal relationship with the Senate majority leader and 
important committee chairmen likely solves fewer legislative logjams 
than it did in the mid-20th century, and the press of business makes the 
threat of a filibuster more potent. Although conflict between the 
Chambers is an inherent part of the bicameral system, the Speaker today 
faces a particularly significant challenge in coordinating the passage 
of legislation with the Senate.

                           The ``Other Body''

  At the end of the 19th century, the procedures of the House and Senate 
began to move in divergent directions. The House, under the leadership 
of Speaker Reed, developed into a majoritarian body, able to act 
whenever most of the Members favored action. The Senate, meanwhile, 
continued to grant great parliamentary powers to individual Senators. 
The lack of Senate rules allowing a simple majority to end debate left 
Senate leaders dependent on unanimous consent agreements to set the 
schedule for considering and voting on measures (even after the 
enactment of a rule in 1917 allowing a super-majority to close debate). 
For over 100 years, the Speaker has been accustomed to setting the 
legislative agenda with the backing of the majority, but the Senate 
majority leader must always take into account the rights afforded to 
individual Senators under the rules and precedents.
  Not surprisingly, because of the differences in the decisionmaking 
processes of the two Chambers, Speakers have long found working with the 
Senate to be challenging. In 1890, Speaker Reed grew exasperated with 
Senators, including those in his own party, who chose to deliberate and 
debate, rather than quickly pass, House bills on the tariff and election 
reform. He urged the Senate to change its rules, attempted to stir 
public sentiment against the Senate, and threatened to keep Congress in 
session until the Senate decided the fate of the bills. The Speaker's 
disapproval of the Senate could not expedite the process; as one Senator 
commented dryly to the press, ``Unless Mr. Reed comes over here in 
person, and takes command, I do not see how we are to oblige him . . . 
It would hardly be fair to him to ask him to run the Senate and the 
House at the same time.'' \2\

\2\ ``Speaker Reed Frowns,'' New York Times, Aug. 4, 1890, p. 1.

  Over 100 years later, a public campaign by another powerful Speaker 
was no more successful in spurring Senate action. An electorate 
reportedly fed up with politics as usual in Washington, DC, gave 
Republicans control of the House and Senate in the 1994 elections. House 
Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich (R-GA; 1995-1999), had campaigned on a 
list of legislative proposals known as the Contract with America. As 
expected, while the House voted on every Contract proposal during the 
first 100 days of the 104th Congress (1995-1996), the Senate debated 
only some of the proposals in the same time period.\3\ Despite his 
unquestionable skills in communicating with the public, the Speaker 
could not force the Senate to act. Threats or trades are unlikely to be 
effective when the Senate leader has few tools at his disposal to force 
action on legislation. Speaking at a joint press conference during the 
consideration of the contract, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) 
illustrated the differences between the job of the Speaker and the job 
of the majority leader. After stating that the Senate would probably not 
be able to ``keep up'' with the speedy House in passing the contract 
items, Dole turned the podium over to Speaker Gingrich by joking that he 
needed to get back to the Senate floor for an upcoming vote ``before 
anybody defects.'' \4\

\3\ Norman Ornstein and Amy L. Schenkenberg, ``The 1995 Congress: The 
First Hundred Days and Beyond,'' Political Science Quarterly, vol. 110, 
no. 2, summer 1995, p. 194.

\4\ Jake Thompson, ``Dole Thrives, Despite Hype for Gingrich,'' Kansas 
City Star, Jan. 7, 1995, p. A1; Transcript, ``News Conference with House 
Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, Republican 
National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour,'' Federal News Service, Jan. 
6, 1995, available from LexisNexis (database online), accessed May 1, 

                         Leadership Coordination

  No Speaker can change the nature of the Senate, but many have 
succeeded in working with Senate leaders to ensure that the key pieces 
of their legislative agenda do not die in the other Chamber. To varying 
degrees since the 19th century, Speakers have met with Senate leaders to 
plan or discuss major policy proposals and strategy. Coordination 
between the Chamber leaders is largely ad hoc, depending partially on 
the personalities of the leaders as well as the preferences of the 
majority party in each Chamber.
  At the very least, the leaders coordinate dates for adjournment, since 
the Constitution forbids either Chamber from adjourning for more than 3 
days without the consent of the other (Article I, Section 5). They have 
also met regularly at various formal party or government events and 
served together on a myriad of commissions. The Speaker and the Senate 
majority leader have also long met jointly with the President, although 
the timing and agenda of these meetings are generally dictated by the 

\5\ Steven S. Smith, ``Forces of Change in Senate Party Leadership,'' in 
Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, eds., Congress Reconsidered, 
5th ed. (Washington: CQ Press, 1993), p. 277; Walter Kravitz, 
``Relations Between the Senate and the House of Representatives: The 
Party Leadership,'' in Policymaking Role of Leadership in the Senate: A 
Compilation of Papers Prepared for the Commission on the Operation of 
the Senate (Washington: GPO, 1976), p. 128.

  The Speaker does not, however, just meet Senate leaders at formal 
events or at the White House. The Chamber leaders also meet to 
accomplish several legislative goals. Sometimes the leaders meet to 
discuss the measures they plan to bring to the floor in the coming 
weeks, but often, the leaders simply inform each other of their 
Chamber's actions, without attempting to coordinate or to even consult 
about their actions.\6\ Such information can prove particularly useful 
at the end of a session when decisions about when, or whether, to 
consider a bill can determine its fate. Any bill that has not passed 
both Chambers in the same form at the end of a Congress dies. The 
frequency of bicameral leadership meetings and less formal contacts 
rises considerably at the end of a session.

\6\ Barbara Sinclair, Majority Leadership in the U.S. House (Baltimore, 
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), p. 113.

  At bicameral leadership meetings, the Speaker and his lieutenants 
might also discuss legislative strategy with Senate leaders. The leaders 
might agree, for example, that one Chamber should act before the other 
on a major piece of legislation. Passage of a bill by one Chamber might 
provide the momentum or public attention necessary to carry the bill 
through the other Chamber. Alternatively, the Speaker might urge the 
Senate to act first because he does not want to consume the precious 
time of the House to consider a measure that has little chance of 
passing the Senate. The Chamber leaders might agree to assign identical 
numbers (such as H.R. 1 and S. 1) to legislation to spotlight the issue 
as an agenda priority.
  The frequency and nature of the coordination between the Speaker and 
Senate leaders apparently depends to some extent on the individuals 
holding the offices. The relationship between Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-TX; 
1955-1961) and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) in the 
fifties is generally held up as the quintessential example of a close 
personal bond between Chamber leaders.\7\ Rayburn had been a mentor to 
Johnson when he served in the House, and they capitalized on their well-
established friendship to turn bills into law.

\7\ Robert A. Caro, Master of the Senate (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 
2002); Ralph K. Huitt, ``Democratic Party Leadership in the Senate,'' 
American Political Science Review, vol. 55, no. 2, June, 1961, p. 338.

  The press could not help but compare the relationship of Rayburn's 
successor, John McCormack (D-MA; 1962-1971) with Senate Majority Leader 
Mike Mansfield (D-MT). One reporter described the leaders' relations in 
1962 as not yet approaching ``in intimacy or effectiveness the alliance 
of Rayburn and Johnson.'' \8\ After Richard M. Nixon succeeded Lyndon 
Johnson as President, another journalist reported that McCormack and 
Mansfield rarely coordinated with each other. At times they would 
disagree with each other publicly over policy issues or even about how 
to best process legislation through both Chambers. The Senate leader 
told reporters in 1969 there was ``no need for more formal party 
coordination between the House and Senate. Each should conduct its own 
business and consult when it has problems.'' \9\

\8\ David S. Broder, `` `The Other Body'--Not `the Upper House,' '' New 
York Times, May 20, 1962, p. SM23.

\9\ Richard L. Lyons, ``Democratic Leadership Gap Widens,'' Washington 
Post, May 21, 1969, p. A1.

  The nature of bicameral leadership coordination has also varied with 
changes in party control of the Chambers and the White House. If the 
House and Senate are controlled by opposite parties, coordination can be 
even more challenging. A congressional scholar and former staff member 
in the House majority leader's office reported that monthly bicameral 
leadership meetings, infrequently productive under unified control, 
disappeared almost entirely during the divided control of the 97th 
Congress (1981-1982). The scholar quotes one participant of the 
bicameral leadership meetings as saying, ``They do what they want to do 
and we do what we want to do and we try to agree on an adjournment 
date.'' \10\ The sentiment was echoed by a long-time Senate staffer who 
claimed the Senate Republican Leader Howard Baker (R-TN) was in constant 
contact not with the Democratic Speaker but with the House minority 
leader. The Senate leader did not otherwise actively work with the 
House. ``We did our own thing,'' the staffer said, ``whatever it was.'' 

\10\ Barbara Sinclair, Majority Leadership in the U.S. House, p. 114.

\11\ ``William F. Hildenbrand, Secretary of the Senate, 1981-1985,'' 
(Washington: Senate Historical Office, Oral History Interviews), p. 326.

  If the House is controlled by the party in opposition to the 
President, then the Speaker might seek to coordinate with the Senate in 
the hopes of building a strong response to the policy platforms of the 
Executive. For example, when the Democrats gained control of the House, 
but not the Senate, in the 72d Congress (1931-1933), they formed a joint 
policy committee. The committee was created to shape the party's 
legislative program and determine how much support to give to the 
program of the Republican President Hoover.\12\ Speaker John Garner (D-
TX; 1931-1933), according to one source, opposed the creation of the 
committee, but the party caucus voted for its formation.\13\ Garner 
appointed the House membership of the committee, convened its meetings 
in his office, and together with Senate Minority Leader Joseph T. 
Robinson (D-AR) acted as its spokesman.

\12\ Richard V. Oulahan, ``Sense of Duty Prevails: Democrats Form 
Senate-House Board to Deal With Hoover Program,'' New York Times, Dec. 
8, 1931, p. 1.

\13\ W.H. Humbert, ``The Democratic Joint Policy Committee,'' American 
Political Science Review, vol. 26, no. 3, June 1932, pp. 552-554.

      Challenges of Leadership Coordination in the Post-Reform Era

  The significant challenges to bicameral leadership coordination have 
become even greater since the major institutional reforms of the 
midseventies. Political scientists generally describe the reform era of 
the 20th century as a shift from committee-dominated policymaking to a 
more participatory process involving junior Members and granting new 
powers to individual Members.\14\ The institutional changes made by both 
Chambers in the seventies magnified the differences in House and Senate 

\14\ Roger H. Davidson, ``The Emergence of the Postreform Congress,'' in 
Roger H. Davison, ed., The Postreform Congress (New York: St. Martin's 
Press, 1992); Steven S. Smith, Call to Order: Floor Politics in the 
House and Senate (Washington: Brookings Institution, 1989).

  While the weakening of committee chairs in the House was accompanied 
by a rise in the powers of the Speaker, no such centralization of power 
occurred in the Senate. In the last 30 years, the Speaker gained the 
power to refer bills to multiple committees and the Rules Committee 
became an arm of party leadership. Changes to the committee assignment 
process in the House also increased the power of the Speaker.\15\ The 
Senate majority leader, in contrast, gained no such increased authority 
over agenda-setting or debate control. Committee autonomy declined in 
the Senate as well as the House, but influence in the Senate was 
transferred to individual Members not to party leaders.\16\ ``In the 
contemporary Congress,'' a legislative scholar noted in the late 
nineties, ``the legislative process in the two chambers is more distinct 
in form and in results than ever before.'' \17\ In short, rising 
individualism, especially when combined with the recent rise in 
partisanship, have made leading the Senate in the past 30 years 
extremely challenging.\18\

\15\ Ronald M. Peters, Jr. ``The Changing Speakership,'' Chap. 1, infra.

\16\ Barbara Sinclair, The Transformation of the U.S. Senate (Baltimore, 
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), p. 2; Christopher J. Deering 
and Steven S. Smith, Committees in Congress, 3d ed. (Washington: CQ 
Press, 1997), p. 183.

\17\ Barbara Sinclair, ``Party Leaders and the New Legislative 
Process,'' in Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, eds., Congress 
Reconsidered, 6th ed. (Washington: CQ Press, 1997), p. 244.

\18\ Smith, ``Forces of Change in Senate Party Leadership,'' Congress 
Reconsidered, 5th ed., p. 273.

  The Speaker and his lieutenants have attempted to meet the challenge 
of an often slow-moving, if not obstructionist, Senate. According to a 
long-time observer of Congress, formal contact between the Speaker and 
the Senate majority leader increased in the eighties.\19\ Speaker James 
Wright (D-TX; 1987-1989) and Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-WV) 
reportedly took turns hosting bi-weekly breakfast meetings which later 
became weekly meetings. The staffs of the Speaker and the Senate 
majority leader also stay in constant contact. After his election as 
party leader, current Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL; 1999-  ) designated 
a staff member to serve as his Deputy Chief of Staff for Bicameral and 
Intergovernmental Affairs. In the current Congress, House and Senate 
leadership aides reportedly meet every Wednesday that Congress is in 

\19\ Barbara Sinclair, Legislators, Leaders, and Lawmaking (Baltimore, 
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), p. 83.

  The Speaker and other leaders in the post-reform House have become 
more involved in determining the substance of legislation.\20\ The 
Speaker, for example, might strive to shape legislation so it passes by 
a wide enough margin to send a message to the Senate regarding its broad 
support. Special meetings with Senate leaders might be called to discuss 
specific pieces of legislation.

\20\ Sinclair, ``Party Leaders and the New Legislative Process,'' 
Congress Reconsidered, 6th ed., p. 236.

  Furthermore, the Speaker and the Senate majority leader in recent 
Congresses have been more directly involved in conference committee 
negotiations. The two leaders may even meet prior to the appointment of 
a conference committee to reach an agreement about the legislative 
vehicle.\21\ In the midseventies, it was reported that ``as a rule'' 
party leaders do not ``inject themselves into conference negotiations 
unless asked to do so.'' \22\ If this was a rule in an earlier era, it 
is followed less often today. Although usually not named as managers, 
leaders of both Chambers often meet with the committee members serving 
as conferees. The Speaker and other party leaders are more likely to 
become involved when conference negotiations are expected to be 
difficult, or when the talks break down. The Speaker can help in behind-
the-scenes dealmaking because of his influence over other aspects of the 
legislative process that sometimes become key bargaining chips in 
difficult negotiations. If House and Senate conferees reach a stalemate, 
they may seek assistance from their leaders, in part because party 
leadership is often in a better position to judge what compromise the 
Chamber as a whole might accept. The Speaker might also be called upon 
to mediate policy disputes between Representatives and Senators of the 
same party.\23\

\21\ Emily Pierce, ``What's Driving: This Week's Agenda,'' Roll Call, 
Sept. 2, 2003, available from LexisNexis (database online), accessed May 
1, 2004.; Tim Curran, ``Leaders Consider Election Reform Strategy,'' 
Roll Call, March 7, 1994, available from LexisNexis (database online), 
accessed May 1, 2004.

\22\ Kravitz, ``Relations Between the Senate and the House of 
Representatives: The Party Leadership,'' Policymaking Role of Leadership 
in the Senate: A Compilation of Papers Prepared for the Commission on 
the Operation of the Senate, p. 131.

\23\ Emily Pierce, ``Tax Conference Getting Parental Supervision,'' Roll 
Call, May 22, 2003, available from LexisNexis (database online), 
accessed May 1, 2004.

                          Conference Committees

  Forging relationships with Senate leaders is only one avenue of 
bicameral coordination the Speaker pursues. After a major piece of 
legislation passes both Chambers, the House and Senate usually resolve 
their disagreements over the legislation in a conference committee. 
Traditionally, the Speaker never appoints himself to a conference 
committee, but this norm has not diminished his role in the crucial 
final negotiations on the major pieces of legislation in a Congress. In 
addition to his informal role in bicameral negotiations, the Speaker 
chooses the Members who will represent the position of the House in 
  The selection of managers has clear implications on the content of a 
conference committee report and, in fact, on the success of a conference 
committee. Service on a conference committee carries with it the 
potential for enormous influence in the version of the legislation that 
will most likely become law. Conference committees report, at a time of 
their choosing, agreements that cannot be amended. Furthermore, despite 
some restrictions placed on conference committee reports by Chamber 
rules and precedents, conference reports sometimes include provisions 
not previously considered by either Chamber. In other words, provisions 
of law are sometimes drafted within a conference committee.
  The Speaker takes care in selecting Representatives to serve on 
conference because their policy positions and personalities can affect 
the outcome of the conference committee. Members who feel strongly that 
the House version is the best policy solution will likely be less 
willing to compromise with the Senate. Also, some Members are more 
skilled at the arts of negotiation than others. Most of the time, 
conferees come from the standing committees with jurisdiction over the 
bill, and sometimes past interactions between House and Senate members 
of committees can influence the bargaining sessions. Some Members have 
built up trust or reputations for fairness among them. The Speaker might 
take these factors into account when choosing conferees.
  The Speaker has appointed House managers since the First Congress, 
although this authority was not specifically codified in House rules 
until 1890.\24\ Even when the House stripped the Speaker of the power to 
appoint standing committees in 1911, it preserved the right of the 
Speaker to appoint conferees. Rulings in the early 20th century 
confirmed the authority of the Speaker to determine how many House 
conferees will be sent to negotiate with the Senate conferees. In 1913, 
a Representative made a motion to instruct the Speaker to appoint seven 
conferees. Another Member raised a point of order against the motion, 
arguing that it was entirely within the Speaker's discretion to 
determine the size of the conference delegation. Speaker James ``Champ'' 
Clark (D-MO; 1911-1919) agreed, sustaining the point of order and 
appointing three conferees.\25\ The ruling was cemented in 1932 when 
Speaker John Garner (D-TX; 1931-1933), in response to a parliamentary 
inquiry, replied that ``you can not direct the Speaker as to the number 
or the manner in which conferees shall be appointed.'' \26\

\24\ The 1890 rule was omitted in the following two Congresses, when 
party control of the House changed, and restored in 1895. Neither the 
adoption nor omission of the rule affected House practice (Asher Hinds, 
Hinds Precedents of the House of Representatives, vol. IV,  4470 
(Washington: GPO, 1907), pp. 896-897)

\25\ Congressional Record, 63d Cong., 1st sess., vol. 56, Dec. 20, 1913, 
p. 1316. Cited in Clarence Cannon, Cannon's Precedents of the House of 
Representatives, vol. VIII,  3221 (Washington: GPO, 1936), p. 716.

\26\ Congressional Record, 72d Cong., 1st sess., vol. 75, June 24, 1932, 
p. 13879. Cited in Cannon, Cannon's Precedents of the House of 
Representatives, vol. VIII,  3220, p. 716.

  To be sure, the rules and precedents have long granted the Speaker 
wide authority in selecting members of conference committees. The 
discretion exercised by the Speaker in appointing managers to 
conference, however, has varied over time. Since the 1880s the Speaker 
has generally appointed members from the standing committee of 
jurisdiction.\27\ Conferees, again by long-standing tradition, also 
represent the major partisan divisions of a Congress. The selection of 
conferees is sometimes described as a consultative process between the 
committee chair and ranking member, who then pass their recommendations 
on to the Speaker.\28\ The Speaker need not simply follow the 
recommendations of the committee leaders, although he often does.

\27\ Elizabeth Rybicki, ``Resolving Bicameral Differences in Congress,'' 
Paper presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Political 
Science Association, p. 19.

\28\ Lawrence D. Longley and Walter J. Oleszek, Bicameral Politics: 
Conference Committees in Congress (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 
1989), pp. 178-181; Resolving Legislative Differences in Congress: 
Conference Committees and Amendments Between the Houses, by Stanley 
Bach, CRS Report 98-696.

  Until the second decade of the 20th century, the Speaker generally 
followed norms of conference appointment that seem to have limited his 
discretion in the selection of conferees. Nearly all House conference 
committee delegations were composed of three Representatives, usually 
the committee chair, the ranking member, and another majority party 
member of the committee of jurisdiction. Variation from the norm of 
appointing three senior members of the standing committee of 
jurisdiction was unusual, and in some cases controversial. Nevertheless, 
at times Speakers did appoint more than three conferees, or members who 
did not serve on the committee of jurisdiction, in order to create a 
delegation that could better represent the policy position of the House 
  In 1900, for example, Speaker David Henderson (R-IA; 1899-1903) faced 
a situation where members from the committee of jurisdiction appeared to 
be poor representatives of the House position. The House had voted to 
instruct the conferees on the naval appropriation bill not to include a 
specific provision in the conference report. The Speaker, following the 
norm, had appointed three members from the committee of jurisdiction to 
represent the House in conference. The conferees met with the Senate 
conferees, and then they presented to the House a report that included 
the language they had been instructed to omit. The House conferees 
claimed that the Senate conferees insisted on the provision. The House 
rejected the report and asked the Senate for a further conference. The 
Speaker, in what has been perceived as an instance of ``discipline by 
the House of its conferees'' appointed a new delegation to represent the 
House in these negotiations.\29\ None of these members served on the 
committee of jurisdiction, and the Speaker's announcement of the new 
conferees led to ``a buzz of surprised comment.'' \30\ The new 
conferees, however, could no more convince the Senate to take the House 
position on the contested provision than the original conferees, and the 
House eventually yielded to the position of the Senate.

\29\ Ada C. McCown, The Congressional Conference Committee (New York: 
AMS Press, Inc., 1967), p. 153.

\30\ ``Contest of the Two Houses,'' New York Times, June 7, 1900, p. 2.

  In another example, Speaker Joseph Cannon (R-IL; 1903-1911) discarded 
the generally well-followed appointment norms in the hopes of 
influencing the conference committee outcome on the 1909 tariff 
bill.\31\ Cannon selected nine members from the committee of 
jurisdiction, but he did not follow the norm of appointing more senior 
members before junior members. Cannon explained that he selected 
conferees in order to assure that the House was well represented 
geographically; indeed, he chose three members from the East, three from 
the West, and three from the South. According to press reports at the 
time, however, these appointments also happened to tilt the conference 
committee in a particular policy direction. ``The fact is not 
overlooked,'' the Washington Post reported, ``that by this arrangement 
Speaker Cannon has been able to eliminate from consideration on the 
conference committee . . . the most aggressive and persistent fighter 
for the free-war-material policy.'' \32\

\31\ DeAlva Stanwood Alexander, History and Procedure of the House of 
Representatives (New York: Burt Franklin, 1916), p. 228.

\32\ ``Cannon Selects Nine,'' Washington Post, July 10, 1909, p. 4.

  While Cannon's decision to appoint nine conferees to the 1909 Tariff 
Conference was met with some disapproval, critics noted that the 
appointment of more than three conferees, especially on major 
legislation, was not unprecedented. Indeed, starting in the 1880s the 
Speaker occasionally appointed larger conference delegations to consider 
the most important policy questions of the day. In 1883, Speaker J. 
Warren Kiefer (R-OH; 1881-1883) appointed five managers to a conference 
committee on a highly controversial tariff bill.\33\ Speaker Reed 
appointed eight conferees to consider a tariff bill in 1897, and Speaker 
Cannon appointed five Representatives to consider a Philippine Islands 
measure in 1905.

\33\ Congressional Record, 47th Cong., 2d sess., vol. 14, Feb. 27, 1883, 
p. 3356.

  Over the course of the 20th century, the Speaker began to appoint 
larger delegations to conference. By the thirties, the average size of a 
House delegation had risen to five members.\34\ The Speaker continued to 
appoint just three Representatives to some conference committees, but 
generally the smaller delegations considered measures that were 
important to fewer Members. The average size of House delegations 
increased gradually throughout the forties and fifties (Figure 1). While 
most contained 5 or fewer members, the delegations on the major 
appropriation bills, for example, often consisted of 10 or more 

\34\ Cannon, Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, vol. 
VIII,  3221, p. 716.

  Anecdotal evidence suggests that past Speakers have, at least on 
occasion, taken advantage of the discretion granted to them by House 
rules to appoint conference delegations to serve the policy or political 
goals of their party. Such qualitative accounts cannot answer the 
questions of how often and under what conditions the Speaker is likely 
to diverge from committee recommendations or appointment norms, and 
there is no attempt to answer those questions here.\35\ Instead, the 
discussion below simply aims to demonstrate that, in the last 30 years, 
institutional changes and new practices have increased the potential for 
the Speaker to exercise discretion in the selection of House managers.

\35\ Political scientists have recently attempted to assess more 
precisely the influence of the Speaker in conference committee 
appointments in the modern era. See, for example, Jeff Lazarus and 
Nathan W. Monroe, ``The Speaker's Discretion: Conference Committee 
Appointments from the 96th-104th Congress,'' Paper presented at the 2003 
Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association; Jeff 
Lazarus and Nathan W. Monroe, ``The Speaker's Discretion: Conference 
Committee Appointments from the 97th-106th Congress,'' Paper presented 
at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science 
Association; Jamie L. Carson and Ryan J. Vander Wielen, ``Legislative 
Politics in a Bicameral System: Strategic Conferee Appointments in the 
U.S. Congress,'' Paper presented at the 2002 Annual Meeting of the 
Northeastern Political Science Association.

  Figure 1.--Average Size of House and Senate Conference Delegations, 
                     Selected Congresses, 1855-2000.

       Increased Discretion of the Speaker in the Post-Reform Era

  The major committee reforms of the seventies weakened the norm of 
appointing senior committee members to conference committee, and, as a 
result, strengthened the Speaker's ability to shape conference committee 
membership. The House modified the standing rule granting the Speaker 
the authority to appoint conferees twice in that decade.\36\ In 1975, 
the House amended the rule to direct the Speaker to appoint conferees 
who ``generally supported the House position as determined by the 
Speaker.'' \37\ In 1977, the rule was modified again, this time to 
direct the Speaker to appoint Representatives who were ``the principal 
proponents of the major provisions of the bill or resolution.'' \38\ The 
new language, according to Majority Leader James Wright (D-TX), would 
encourage the Speaker to ``consider appointing sponsors of major 
successful amendments which have been adopted on the floor of the 
House.'' \39\ In both instances, the aim of the reformers was to 
increase the influence of rank-and-file members in the crucial 
conference committee stage of the legislative process. The Speaker, as 
leader of the majority party, was expected to appoint members who 
represented the position of the House.

\36\ See House Rule 1, clause 11 for the full guidelines the Speaker is 
expected to follow in the selection of conferees during the 108th 

\37\ Congressional Record, 93d Cong., 1st sess., vol. 119, Oct. 8, 1974, 
p. 34470.

\38\ Congressional Record, 95th Cong., 1st sess., vol. 123, Jan. 4, 
1977, p. 53.

\39\ Congressional Record, 95th Cong., 1st sess., vol. 123, Jan. 4, 
1977, p. 55.

  Neither of these rules changes had as significant an impact on the 
role of the Speaker in conferee appointment, however, as a 1975 rule 
granting the Speaker the authority to refer bills to more than one 
standing committee. Multiple referral transformed the composition of 
conference committees and increased the discretion of the Speaker in the 
selection of conferees.\40\ When multiple committees consider a bill, 
the Speaker must decide how the various committees should be represented 
on the conference committee. Instead of taking the recommendations of a 
single chair, the Speaker may have to work with and coordinate among 
several committee chairs and their requests for representation on a 
conference committee. If disputes arise among committee chairs, they 
often call on party leadership to resolve the policy conflicts.

\40\ Garry Young and Joseph Cooper, ``Multiple Referral and the 
Transformation of House Decision Making,''  Congress Reconsidered, 5th 
ed., p. 226; Walter J. Oleszek, ``House-Senate Relations: A Perspective 
on Bicameralism,'' The Postreform Congress, p. 205.

  The new referral practices also make it more likely that the Speaker 
will limit the negotiating authority of a conferee. The Speaker has the 
ability to appoint what are sometimes called ``limited purpose'' 
conferees, or members appointed to consider only selected matters in 
disagreement with the Senate. If only a portion of a measure falls under 
the jurisdiction of a standing committee, for example, the Speaker may 
appoint conferees from that committee only for the purposes of 
considering those matters within their jurisdiction. Prior to the 
seventies, the Speaker rarely appointed limited purpose conferees, 
although he did so under certain circumstances. In 1950, for example, 
the general appropriation bills were combined into a single omnibus 
bill, and Speaker Rayburn appointed a unique set of managers 
(corresponding with the Appropriations subcommittees) to negotiate over 
each chapter of the omnibus bill.\41\

\41\ Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and Rules of the House of 
Representatives, H. Doc. 107-284, 107th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington: 
GPO), p. 284; Congressional Record, 81st Cong., 2d sess., vol. 96, Aug. 
7, 1950, pp. 11894-11895.

  After the Speaker was given the authority to refer bills to more than 
one committee, he also began to appoint limited purpose conferees more 
often. From the 91st through the 94th Congress (1969-1976), the Speaker 
appointed limited purpose conferees on only three bills. In contrast, in 
the four Congresses (1977-1984) following the emergence of multiple 
referral, the Speaker set limited authority for conferees on 61 bills, 
or an average of 15 measures per Congress. At the start of the 102d 
Congress (1991-1992), Speaker Thomas Foley (D-WA; 1989-1995) announced 
that he intended to simplify the appointment of conferees,\42\ but the 
appointment of complex conference delegations has continued to the 
present day. In the 107th Congress (2001-2002), the Speaker appointed 
limited purpose conferees on 10 out of the 37 measures the Chambers 
agreed to send to conference.

\42\ Congressional Record, 102d Cong., 1st sess., vol. 137, Jan. 3, 
1991, p. H31.

  The option to appoint a conferee for a single purpose can be an 
important tool of the Speaker. It allows the Speaker to name 
Representatives with the most knowledge about portions of legislation as 
negotiators, without granting them influence over the entire compromise 
package. If a Member best represents the House or the party on only one 
element of the legislation, the Speaker can limit his or her involvement 
in conference negotiations to that element.
  Since the reforms of the seventies, the norm of the small conference 
delegation has disappeared, giving the Speaker more flexibility to 
determine the size of the House delegation. In the last 30 years, the 
Speaker has appointed more Representatives to conference committees than 
he did in earlier eras (Figure 1). In the 94th Congress (1975-1976), for 
example, the average size of a House delegation was 10 Members, and 98 
percent of all conference committees had delegations larger than 5 
Members. The size of conference committees continued to rise throughout 
the eighties and nineties. To some extent, the average number of 
delegates is driven upward by a few mega-conferences each Congress. In 
the 100th Congress (1987-1988), for example, the Speaker appointed 155 
delegates to the conference on the omnibus trade bill.\43\ Yet even 
excluding the huge conferences, the average size of both House and 
Senate delegations grew in the second half of the 20th century.

\43\ Longley and Oleszek, Bicameral Politics: Conference Committees in 
Congress, p. 67.

  While the historical evidence suggests that the Speaker has long taken 
advantage of the power to appoint conferees, since the seventies the 
Speaker has had a greater capacity to exercise discretion over the 
composition of the House delegation. The Speaker's ability to use 
conference assignments as a mechanism to influence conference outcomes 
was rather limited, both by the size of the conference and the norm of 
appointing the two party leaders from the committee. In the modern 
Congress, the rules and practices leave the Speaker with more authority 
over conference composition. The most recent rules change in the 103d 
Congress (1993-1994) granted the Speaker the authority to add, or 
remove, conferees after the initial appointment.\44\ Regardless of how 
often the Speaker actually exercises this power, the rules change could 
potentially increase his influence over conference committees. Conferees 
are aware that the Speaker can remove them from the committee or add 
enough other Members to the conference to ensure a majority will sign 
the conference report.

\44\ Congressional Record, 103d Cong., 1st sess., vol. 139, Jan. 5, 
1993, p. 49.


  Over the past century, the Speaker has helped transform policy 
proposals into law by working informally with Senate leadership and by 
applying his formal conference appointment powers to further the goals 
of a majority of the House. The Speaker's role in bicameral coordination 
in the modern era is particularly challenging. The equal distribution of 
power in the Senate, one result of the seventies reforms, makes that 
body difficult to lead. The Speaker must coordinate not just with Senate 
party and committee leaders, but with other Senators, who, in the modern 
era, are more likely to be interested in a broad array of issues and are 
more likely to exercise their individual prerogatives afforded under the 
rules of the Senate.
  The modern Speaker also has greater responsibilities in the 
appointment of House conferees. The advent of multiple referral and 
other rules changes have left the Speaker with the ability to determine 
not just who will serve as conferees, but how many will serve, what 
committees they will represent, and what portions of the legislation 
they will consider. The most recent rules change also allows the Speaker 
to add or remove conferees from the committee during the negotiations.
  The changes in rules and practices that occurred three decades ago 
continue to shape the role of the Speaker in bicameral relations. It 
remains to be seen whether the duties of the Speaker in the two 
principal devices of bicameral coordination, leadership cooperation and 
conference committees, will continue to grow. It seems likely that the 
Speaker's role in bicameral relations will vary, as it has in the past, 
with changes in the membership and institutions of Congress.
                                Chapter 5

                        The Speaker and the Press

                              Betsy Palmer

                 Analyst in American National Government

                     Congressional Research Service

  Thirteen years after he last held the gavel as Speaker of the House of 
Representatives, Joseph ``Uncle Joe'' Cannon (R-MO) graced the cover of 
a new national magazine. It was March 3, 1923, and Cannon, who served as 
Speaker from 1903 until 1911, had just announced his retirement from the 
House. The editors of Time decided to write a tribute to Cannon and his 
turbulent times as leader and accompany it with a sketch of the former 
Speaker on their very first cover. The article on the inside of the 
magazine is hardly what modern readers would consider a cover story--
just a few paragraphs on one page. The magazine wrote:

  Uncle Joe in those days was a Speaker of the House and supreme 
dictator of the Old Guard. Never did a man employ the office of the 
Speaker with less regard for its theoretical impartiality. To Uncle Joe, 
the Speakership was a gift from heaven, immaculately born into the 
Constitution by the will of the fathers for the divine purpose of 
perpetuating the dictatorship of the standpatters in the Republican 
party. And he followed the divine call with a resolute evangelism that 
was no mere voice crying in the wilderness, but a voice that forbade 
anybody else to cry out--out of turn.\1\

\1\ ``Uncle Joe,'' Time, vol. 1, Mar. 3, 1923, p. 2.

  Seventy-two years later, a Speaker achieved another first with Time--
Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was named its ``Man of the Year'' for 1995, 
the first House Speaker ever to be so honored.\2\ These profiles of 
Cannon and Gingrich are part of a complex history of the relationship 
between the Speaker and the press corps.

\2\ Nancy Gibbs and Karen Tumulty, ``Master of the House,'' Time, vol. 
146, Dec. 25, 1995, p. 54.

  Several elements appear to affect the kind of relationship a Speaker 
has with the press corps. Among these elements, raised as questions, are 
the following: Is the Speaker the opposition voice for the party that 
does not control the White House? Do the Speaker and his party (they 
have all been men) have a clearly defined and explained legislative 
agenda? What kind of personality does the Speaker bring to the job? Is 
he confrontational? Confident? Or more of a quiet, behind-the-scenes 
  Perhaps the most important element affecting the relationship between 
the Speaker and the press has been the changing nature of the press 
itself. There have been three major eras that help to understand the 
volatile interaction and inter-dependence between the Speaker and the 
press. The first was characterized by partisanship on the part of the 
press, the second was marked by Speakers who carefully cultivated 
relationships with a few congressional reporters, and the third was 
defined by the advent of television and electronic broadcasting. This 
chapter examines Speakers during each of the three periods, focusing on 
those who had well-documented relationships with the press.

                         An Era of Partisanship

  In the earliest days of the House, reporters and the newspapers for 
which they wrote were explicitly partisan. Their goal was not merely to 
report the news, but to do so in a way that helped the political party 
with which they were affiliated. Many reporters found that their 
fortunes rose and fell with that of their party. So, for example, when 
the House convened for a lame duck session in November 1800 after the 
defeat of the Federalists:

  Samuel Smith of the Intelligencer and John Stewart of the Federalist 
were on hand to cover its debates, and the two reporters petitioned for 
a place on the House floor. Federalist Speaker Theodore Sedgwick cast a 
tie-breaking vote against them, on the grounds that their presence would 
destroy the dignity of the chamber and inconvenience its members. When 
the Intelligencer challenged the Speaker's ruling, Sedgwick ordered 
editor Smith banned from the House lobby and galleries. The election of 
Thomas Jefferson, together with new Republican majorities in Congress, 
vastly improved Samuel Smith's fortunes. The House welcomed him back, 
and in January 1802 voted forty-seven to twenty-eight to find room on 
the floor for the reporters.\3\

\3\ Donald A. Ritchie, Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington 
Correspondents (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 12. 
Hereafter referred to as Ritchie, Press Gallery.

  At first, the most important role played by reporters in the Capitol 
was that of recorders of debate, taking down for the record the debates 
of what went on in the House and the Senate. Those summaries were made 
available to newspapers outside Washington, which were free to use them 
or not. Eventually, newspapers began hiring ``letter writing'' 
correspondents, who would sit in the House and Senate galleries and 
compose commentaries on the actions of the two Chambers that would then 
be sent home to their local newspapers. By the Civil War, there was an 
identifiable press corps in Washington whose members focused most of 
their attention on Capitol Hill.\4\

\4\ Ibid., p. 3.

  Reporters not only shared the political ideology of some of the 
Members they covered, they also worked for Members during congressional 
recesses. Newspapers could not afford to pay reporters for a full year's 
work when Congress was in recess for a good portion of the time; so 
reporters turned to the people they covered to find additional work. 
Many were hired as clerks for committees or secretaries for Members 

\5\ Ibid., p. 4.

  This made for an interesting relationship between the Speaker and the 
press corps. During the winter of 1855-1856, for example, Horace 
Greeley, a powerful editor and reporter for the New York Tribune, became 
deeply involved in the hotly contested race for Speaker, even though he 
was not a Member of the House.\6\ Greeley wanted to see Representative 
Nathaniel Banks (D-MA) elected because of Banks' antislavery policies. 
Greeley filed daily dispatches from the House as Members cast ballot 
after ballot trying to elect a Speaker, and he made it clear he favored 
Banks and worked on his behalf. ``After the House cast its 118th 
unsuccessful ballot, Representative Albert Rust (D-AR) proposed that all 
leading contenders withdraw in favor of a compromise candidate.'' 
Greeley wrote a letter strongly opposing Rust's plan, and the day after 
the letter appeared in the Tribune, Rust encountered Greeley and 
severely beat him. Greeley, however, recovered sufficiently to write 
stories about Banks' election as Speaker on the 133d ballot.\7\

\6\ Greeley had been elected as a Whig to the 30th Congress, from 
December 4, 1848 to March 3, 1849.

\7\ Ritchie, Press Gallery, pp. 50-51.

  Reporters were so involved in the politics of Washington that many 
also decided to run for office themselves. The first journalist to 
become Speaker of the House was Schuyler Colfax, a Republican from 
Indiana, who served as Speaker from December 7, 1863 through March 1869.

  Schuyler Colfax's election as Speaker had brought special pleasure to 
the press . . . Now one of their own--the proprietor and occasional 
letter writer to the South Bend Register--presided over the House of 
Representatives. . . . To celebrate Colfax's election as Speaker, the 
Washington Press corps hosted a dinner in his honor, one of the first of 
what became a favored device for bringing together reporters and 
politicians in a social setting. ``We journalists and men of the 
newspaper press do love you, and claim you as bone of our bone and flesh 
of our flesh,'' said toastmaster Sam Wilkeson. ``Fill your glasses, all, 
in an invocation to the gods for long life, greater successes, and ever-
increasing happiness to our editorial brother in the Speaker's Chair.'' 
. . . Having sprung from the press, Speaker Colfax applied the lessons 
of his profession skillfully, making himself always available for 
interviews, planting stories, sending flattering notes to editors, 
suggesting editorials, and spreading patronage. He intended to parlay 
his popularity with the press into a national following that would make 
him the first journalist in the White House.'' \8\

\8\ Ibid., p. 67.

  But the Speaker of this period who would transcend even Colfax's 
popularity with the press was James G. Blaine (R-ME). Blaine came to 
politics directly from journalism--he had been the part owner of the 
Kennebec Journal, and later accepted the editorship of the Portland, ME, 
Advertiser. Blaine was elected to Congress in 1862, and served as 
Speaker for three Congresses, from 1869 to 1875. He was a contender for 
the Republican Presidential nomination in both 1876 and 1880, and was 
the party's nominee in 1884.\9\

\9\ The National Cyclopedia of American Biography (New York: James T. 
White and Company, 1891), vol. 1, pp. 137-139.

  Blaine used his news experience to win over the Washington press 
corps. ``Blaine courted correspondents for Republican and Democratic 
papers alike and learned how to give reporters what they wanted. Having 
begun as an editor and reporter, rather than as a lawyer, he employed 
his instinct for news and genius for self-advertisement to generate an 
immense and devoted national following.'' \10\

\10\ Ritchie, Press Gallery, p. 131.

  Blaine took care to cultivate personal relationships with reporters, 
calling them by their first names and seeking them out with news. He 
also came up with unique ways to get his point of view into the 
newspaper. ``Blaine invented the Sunday news release, recognizing that 
anything distributed on that slow news day would get prominent display 
in the Monday papers. He experimented with the semipublic letter, 
intended more for the press than for its nominal recipient. He floated 
trial balloons to test public sentiment, and disavowed them if they 
burst.'' \11\

\11\ Ibid., p. 138.

  ``No man in America better understood the ways and means of reaching 
the public ear through the newspaper press than Blaine,'' wrote 
correspondent David Barry. Blaine actively pursued reporters, regardless 
of their party, but ``if a reporter wrote critically of Blaine he found 
himself cut off from this important source,'' Barry wrote. \12\

\12\ Ibid., p. 137.

  Blaine's intense attention to press relations served him well during 
the Credit Mobilier scandal. Lobbyists were accused of giving Members of 
Congress stock in Credit Mobilier, a Union Pacific Railroad subsidiary, 
at par value, i.e., less than half its market price, sometimes without 
making Members pay for the stock at all. Speaker Colfax was accused of 
participating in the stock dealings, and the scandal contributed to the 
demise of his career. Blaine, however, who also stood accused of 
obtaining stock at less than market value, decided to take on his 
accusers and managed to weather the storm.
  Blaine's broker, James Mulligan, had kept letters from Blaine about 
the stock deals, which investigators wanted to make public. Blaine went 
to Mulligan's hotel room in Washington and took the letters. Then, from 
the floor of the House, Blaine read selected portions designed to clear 
himself of the charges. To the amazement of his opponents, he was 
successful, though it became clear later that he had edited the letters 
rather substantially in their reading to the House.\13\

\13\ Ibid., pp. 139-142.

  The Credit Mobilier scandal left a lasting imprint on the relationship 
between the press and Congress, as noted by Henry Boyton, an influential 
reporter for the Cincinnati Gazette in post-Civil War Washington. Boyton 
wrote that the scandal marked a turning point in the relations between 
the press and the politicians they covered:

  The general relations of friendship between the two classes continued, 
however, without marked interruption to the days of the explosions over 
Credit Mobilier and kindred scandals. Up to that time Newspaper Row was 
daily and nightly visited by the ablest and most prominent men in public 
affairs. Vice presidents, the heads of departments, heads of bureaus, 
the presiding officers of the two houses of Congress, and the strongest 
and most noted men of the Senate and of the House in the grandest period 
of the Republic's life, were frequent and welcome visitors in the 
Washington offices of the leading journals of the land. Suddenly, with 
the Credit Mobilier outbreak, and others of its kind which followed it, 
these pleasant relations began to dissolve under the sharp and deserved 
criticism of the correspondents. To this situation succeeded long years 
of estrangement. Newspaper Row was gradually deserted by the class 

\14\ Henry V.N. Boyton, ``The Press and Public Men,'' Century, vol. 42, 
Oct. 1891, p. 855.

  The press also became concerned about the many reporters who lobbied 
the government at the same time they were writing stories about 
Congress. In November 1877, Boyton and other leaders of the press met 
with House Speaker Samuel Randall (D-PA) to discuss press gallery 
accreditation. Over the next 2 years the journalists created a set of 
rules that defined who could be an accredited journalist, a plan that 
was adopted by a gathering of reporters in 1879. The House agreed to the 
plan later the same year, and the Senate followed suit in 1884. Under 
the plan, a group of five journalists, called the Standing Committee of 
Correspondents, would monitor the galleries and be responsible for 
ensuring that lobbyists did not use the facilities reserved for 

\15\ Ritchie, Press Gallery, p. 109.

  The press was also in a major transition at this time, from partisan 
newspapers that covered the Capitol with an ideological intent, to 
money-making businesses, where getting the news was what mattered. 
``From the 1860s to the 1920s, the newspaper served less and less well 
as a medium of traditional exuberant partisanship,'' wrote media scholar 
Michael McGerr. By the 1870s, an independent press, focused more on a 
``restrained and factual style'' had emerged, a development aided by the 
creation and expansion of the Associated Press.\16\

\16\ Michael E. McGerr, The Decline of Popular Politics: The American 
North, 1865-1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 107; 
Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of American 
Newspapers (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1978), p. 4.

  These elements--the development of a less partisan press, the creation 
of a formalized structure for journalists within Congress and the 
distance between the press and politicians following the Credit Mobilier 
scandal--marked the beginning of a new period in the relationship 
between the Speaker and the press, a time when many reporters were 
viewed by Speakers with suspicion, but a few came to be regarded as 
trusted allies and friends.

                        ``The Boys'' of the Press

  Speaker Joe Cannon, who was Speaker from 1903 to 1911, divided the 
press into two groups--those who regularly covered Capitol Hill and 
those who did not. For the former, Cannon had praise and even some 
affection--in 1908 he was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of 
Crosby S. Noyes, editor in chief of the Evening Star, then the leading 
Washington daily, for example.\17\ It was the other reporters, those who 
did not report out of Washington regularly, who earned Cannon's ire.

\17\ ``Mr. Noyes at Rest,'' Washington Post, Mar. 1, 1908, p. 1.

  I was always fond of the newspaper boys in Washington. Few of them 
ever betrayed my confidences, and they said many nice things about me. 
For the great part they were honorable men, animated by decent 
instincts. It was significant that during the ``muckraking'' campaign 
that flourished from about 1907 to 1911, few, if any of the regular 
newspaper men in Washington took part. Their work was to report facts, 
not to deal in slander and half-truths. The ``muckrakers'' were 
generally men unfamiliar with Washington, politics or men in political 
life. I attended Gridiron dinners regularly, for the Club was always 
kind enough to ask me to go.\18\

\18\ Joseph G. Cannon, The Memoir of Joseph Gurney ``Uncle Joe'' Cannon, 
as transcribed by Helen Leseure Abdill (Danville, VA: Voorhees Printing 
Co., 1996), p. 132.

  This distinction between the ``regulars'' and those who did not spend 
their time at the Capitol was adopted by many Speakers who followed 
Cannon, regardless of their political affiliation. To some extent, it 
has influenced how Speakers from Cannon on related to the press.
  Cannon, known to friend and foe as ``Uncle Joe,'' was a major national 
figure during his speakership, particularly in 1910 during the struggle 
with a group of insurgent House Republicans over the scope of his 
control. He became a favorite subject of editorial writers and 
cartoonists, who called him a ``czar'' or a ``tyrant.'' The Speaker 
blamed the bad press, or the ``muckraking'' as he called it, on what he 
said was a cabal of newspaper reporters and editors who had wanted him 
to support changing the tariff on woodpulp and print paper.
  According to Cannon, a newspaper editor by the name of Herman Ridder 
said he would help Cannon obtain the 1908 Republican Presidential 
nomination if Cannon would support the changes to the tariff. Cannon 
said later he had no idea if Ridder could have helped him win the 
Republican nomination, but he thought it was clear Ridder could hurt him 
for not going along. ``[A]nyone who read the papers for the three years 
or so following 1907 must remember the success that he or someone else 
achieved in a campaign of vilification, virtual misrepresentation, and 
personal abuse of myself, along with the responsible Republican leaders 
of the House.'' \19\

\19\ Ibid., pp. 140-141.

  Whatever the reason, Cannon certainly saw his fair share of critical 
coverage by the national press, as documented by scholar Scott William 

  Extensive and sometimes biased press coverage of the rules controversy 
had alerted the public to the fact that Speaker Cannon might not be 
quite the benevolent character they had once believed him to be.

  The Baltimore Sun cited Cannon as being ``the very embodiment of all 
the sinister interests and malign influences that have brooded over this 
land and exacted toil from every hearthstone.'' Both Colliers and 
Success magazines had been running articles in regular installments that 
not only detailed the Speaker's wrongdoings but also praised the 
insurgents. When a large segment of the public responded by turning 
against Cannon, some moderate Republicans realized that their own 
political futures would soon be in jeopardy if they continued to support 
him. The press, therefore, did the insurgents an absolutely invaluable 
service. The Speaker was angered by the press assault and the public 
response to it but refused to make changes in the way he ran the 

\20\ Scott William Rager, ``Uncle Joe Cannon: the Brakeman of the House 
of Representatives, 1911-1915,'' in Roger H. Davidson, Susan Webb 
Hammond, and Raymond W. Smock, eds., Masters of the House: Congressional 
Leadership Over Two Centuries (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), p. 

  The Washington Post, in a profile of Cannon, began the story like 
this: ``The central figure in every discussion of the American Congress 
today is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Joseph Gurney 
Cannon. He is as much of a character in American politics as was the 
rugged Andrew Jackson, or the terrible John Randolph of Roanoke, or the 
imperious Roscoe Conkling.'' \21\

\21\ Frederick J. Haskin, ``The American Congress: XX. Speaker Cannon's 
Career,'' Washington Post, Dec. 12, 1909, p. 7.

  As Speaker, Cannon was in charge of the House press gallery, an 
organization of reporters established in 1890. The 1890 agreement 
between the House and the press corps established a permanent gallery on 
the third floor of the Capitol from which reporters could watch House 
floor action. In addition, the press gallery had office space for 
reporters to make and receive phone calls and write their reports.\22\ 
Cannon delegated control of the gallery and the care of the press to his 
secretary, L. White Busbey, a former Washington correspondent for 
Chicago newspapers:

\22\ This was the first press gallery, designed for the ``print'' press, 
or those who wrote for daily newspapers. Over time, both the House and 
Senate created additional, separate press galleries for the periodical 
press (such as weekly magazines) and for radio and television reporters.

  The Speaker had charge of the press gallery, and I turned this over to 
Busbey, telling him that I would hold him fully responsible for keeping 
the boys happy, and that he was not to bring any disputes to me unless 
there was no escape . . . The newspaper boys always seemed to have a 
hankering for stories and Busbey relieved me of too much interruption by 
them. Busbey had a busy life, working to all hours.\23\

\23\ Cannon, The Memoir of Joseph Gurney ``Uncle Joe'' Cannon, pp. 119-

  Speakers who followed Cannon, also appeared to enjoy the company of 
Capitol Hill reporters. Speaker Frederick H. Gillett, for example, 
joined a dozen members of the Senate press gallery and an equal number 
of Senators in a golf game in 1922.\24\

\24\ Henry Litchfield West, ``Scribes Easy for Senatorial Golfers,'' 
Washington Post, June 28, 1922, p. 10.

  Speaker Nicholas Longworth (R-OH), Speaker from 1925 to 1931, played 
the inside game with reporters to great advantage. The charming husband 
of Alice Roosevelt was extremely popular with the press. He was able to 
move portions of President Coolidge's legislative program through the 
House in just 2 short months, for example, and won plaudits from the 
press for this achievement.\25\

\25\ Donald C. Bacon, ``Nicholas Longworth: The Genial Czar,'' in 
Masters of the House, p. 135.

  Said another writer: ``. . . an indisputable aura of glamor did hover 
around Nicholas Longworth. He was even profiled by a movie magazine, and 
though he was the only Speaker in history to whom the klieg lights were 
so attracted, there was no egoistic pretension about him.'' Further, 
``Another result of Longworth's characteristic detachment--or cynicism, 
some call it--was to endear him to newsmen who had been born knowing 
that life would go on no matter what the Congress decided. Many of them 
became enthusiastic fans of Longworth, and they tendered him the kind of 
praise few politicians have ever enjoyed.'' \26\

\26\ Richard B. Cheney and Lynne V. Cheney, Kings of the Hill: Power and 
Personality in the House of Representatives (New York: Continuum, 1983) 
pp. 156, 158. Hereafter referred to as Cheney, Kings of the Hill.

  His method of dealing with the press was described in detail in an 
Associated Press article, written by Walter Chamblin, that was included 
in a biography of Longworth written by his sister. The story sets the 
scene in Longworth's private office just off the floor of the Chamber 
after the House had adjourned for the day:

  It was in this retreat that the press learned to know and to love him. 
His door never was closed to a reporter and no matter how muddled the 
legislative situation might be, Nick ever was smiling and genial. 
Nothing pleased him more than for the correspondents to arrive with a 
batch of good stories. He would laugh heartily and then would tell one 
of his own. His supply seemingly was inexhaustible. It was in such a 
setting that Nick liked best to discuss affairs with the press. He never 
cared much for formal conferences, which are so popular with most 
officials in Washington, although at times a troop of correspondents 
would arrive from the Senate or downtown departments and insist on such 
an interview. He always complied, but seldom spoke as freely as he did 
at the informal gatherings. No matter how his social engagements might 
pile up, he always found time to attend any gathering of correspondents. 
He was invited to all . . . Upon a few occasions when the correspondents 
felt that their prerogatives were being ignored, such as instances 
usually arising with some new Representative who arrived at the Capitol 
quite puffed up over the importance of his office, the Speaker each time 
personally took up the battle for the press. He believed the press of 
paramount importance in the functioning of the House.\27\

\27\ Clara Longworth DeChambrun, The Making of Nicholas Longworth: 
Annals of an American Family (New York: Ray Long and Richard Smith, 
Inc., 1933), pp. 306-307.

  This easy, comfortable behind-the-scenes relationship with the press 
allowed Longworth to shape news coverage to his liking in many 
instances, persuading some reporters, for example, that the House was 
the predominant Chamber over the Senate during much of his 

\28\ Cheney, Kings of the Hill, p. 158.

  Following Longworth's unexpected death, there followed three one-term 
Speakers. The first of those, John Nance Garner held views about the 
press similar to those of Longworth. ``He granted few formal interviews 
to the press, although he admitted a small number of correspondents into 
his personal circle and sometimes used them for his political purposes. 
Reporters such as Cecil Dickson, Marquis James, and especially Bascom 
Timmons were as close to him as any politician.'' \29\

\29\ Anthony Champagne, ``John Nance Garner,'' in Masters of the House, 
p. 152.

  Garner, who was Speaker from December 1931 through March 1933, held a 
regular, daily briefing for the press when the House was in session, 
possibly the first Speaker to do so. This tradition, of meeting with the 
press before the start of the day's session to discuss the House's 
schedule, continued for more than 60 years until Speaker Newt Gingrich 
dropped it in 1995.\30\

\30\ ``Garner and Rainey Reply,'' New York Times, June 26, 1932, p. 21.; 
Howard Kurtz, ``Gingrich Plans to End Daily News Briefings,'' Washington 
Post, May 3, 1995, p. A7.

                         A Complex Relationship

  Speaker Sam Rayburn was known to dislike dealing with the press. The 
Texas Democrat ``actively avoided much of the media, especially 
television. He refused to appear on the popular television talk show of 
the day, `Meet the Press,' and routinely avoided most print and 
broadcast reporters as well . . .'' \31\

\31\ Elaine S. Povich, Partners and Adversaries: The Contentious 
Connection Between Congress and the Media (Arlington, VA: Freedom Forum, 
1996), p. 13.

  During at least some of the time he was Speaker, however, Rayburn 
rented a room in the house of C.P. Trusell, a congressional reporter for 
the New York Times. Rayburn and Trusell were good friends, such good 
friends that the reporter eventually asked the Speaker to move out. 
Trusell reportedly was having trouble keeping his information straight, 
separating what he knew from his own work and what he had learned about 
the goings on in the House from his friendship with Rayburn, information 
that could not be reported.\32\

\32\ Jim Cannon, ``Congress and the media: the loss of trust,'' in 
Partners and Adversaries, pp. 68-69.

  Rayburn distinguished between ``the press,'' a generic group he did 
not like, and certain congressional reporters, who he trusted and with 
whom he was friends. Two anecdotes illustrate how Rayburn saw this 
divide. One, recounted in a largely positive biography of the Speaker, 
shows him helping a reporter he knew. The other shows his disdain for 
television, a form of media with which he was uncomfortable.
  In the first story, the teenage daughter of a reporter who had been at 
several of Rayburn's press conferences had died. Early the morning after 
her death, Rayburn went to the reporter's house to offer his 
condolences. The book continues:

  ``I just came by to see what I could do to help,'' he [Rayburn] said. 
A bit flustered, the father replied, ``I don't think there's anything 
you can do. We're making all the arrangements.''

  ``Well, have you had your coffee this morning?'' Mr. Sam asked.

  ``No, we haven't had time.''

  ``Well,'' he replied promptly, ``I can at least make the coffee this 

  And while Mr. Sam was puttering about in the kitchen, the reporter 
said, ``Mr. Speaker, I thought you were supposed to be having breakfast 
at the White House this morning.''

  ``Well, I was, but I called the President and told him I had a friend 
who was in trouble, and I couldn't come.'' \33\

\33\ C. Dwight Dorough, Mr. Sam (New York: Random House, 1962), p. 287.

  In the second tale, Rayburn explained to Lawrence Spivak, a well-known 
journalist, why he would not appear on the NBC program, ``Meet the 
Press.'' ``I never go on programs such as yours because some twenty or 
more years ago I did go on a panel program on the radio and all the 
folks on the panel got in such an argument that I had enough.'' The 
writer continues, ``Never having had a very high opinion of publicity, 
he wasn't going to change his mind about it now. One of the greatest 
compliments he could pay a colleague was to say, `He doesn't run around 
getting his name in the newspapers all the time.' '' \34\

\34\ Cheney, Kings of the Hill, pp. 177-178.

  Rayburn was direct with the reporters he did decide to talk to. ``He 
handled the press in the same straightforward way he had since they 
first started paying him attention. The reporters who came to his office 
got five minutes for their questions. His answers were short, to the 
point and off the record. `You'll have to go somewhere else to get your 
quotes,' he told them.'' \35\

\35\ Ibid., p. 178.

  It was clear that Rayburn saw the value in letting certain, selected 
reporters into his confidence. They were invited to the ultimate 
insider's meetings, the sessions with the ``Board of Education,'' as it 
was known, the late-night meetings and drinking sessions of some of the 
most powerful men in Washington, led by Rayburn in his Capitol hideaway. 
``In Rayburn's mind, these trusted reporters were different from the 
rest of the national press; they understood and appreciated the work of 
the House of Representatives. They also understood the importance of 
longstanding personal relationships as Rayburn did, and would not 
sacrifice those relationships for a single story. It was a true 
symbiotic relationship.'' \36\

\36\ Joe S. Foote, ``The Speaker and the Media,'' in Ronald M. Peters, 
ed., The Speaker: Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives 
(Washington: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1994), p. 137.

  Rayburn's contact with this group of media was not necessarily 
designed to reach out to the country, or to try and build any kind of 
grassroots coalitions. Rather, he used the reporters, many of whom 
worked for the country's top news organizations, to communicate with his 
fellow Members. ``Speaker Rayburn perceived relationships with reporters 
as an advantage internally within the House rather than a conduit to a 
national constituency. He was far more concerned with what his 
colleagues read than with what the general public read.'' \37\

\37\ Ibid., p. 138.

  Rayburn also continued the daily press briefings begun under earlier 
Speakers. For 5 minutes before the start of the House he would meet with 
reporters. The questions and the tone of those briefings made it clear 
he was aiming the information at his fellow House Members primarily. 
``It was purely an insider's game. Questions focused on arcane procedure 
or mundane scheduling of business. . . . Observers not initiated to the 
process would have a difficult time understanding what was going on. 
House jargon and parliamentary shorthand punctuated answers.'' \38\

\38\ Ibid.

  It was clear that the trust he gave to the reporters was repaid. In a 
lengthy profile of Rayburn for the New York Times, reporter William S. 
White tells the story of having been in the room when Rayburn was 
notified of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he makes 
it clear that he would not divulge the specifics of what Rayburn said:

  His heavy and very nearly immobile face was still in the shadows and 
the only movements upon it were the small and barely visible traces of 
the tears. He swept them away roughly. For a long time, no one said 
anything at all. Then Mr. Rayburn hunched his shoulders and, looking out 
unseeingly into the dusk, he spoke slowly in short, hard, phrases as 
though talking to himself. There, before friends, in words that are yet 
under the seal of that room (in which this correspondent was among those 
present), Mr. Rayburn took an oath for the future. Its substance was 
that Sam Rayburn--Southern Democrat and all--had followed Franklin 
Roosevelt in life, and that Sam Rayburn would follow Franklin Roosevelt 
in death.\39\

\39\ William S. White, ``Sam Rayburn--The Untalkative Speaker,'' New 
York Times, Feb. 27, 1949, p. SM10.

  Rayburn's dislike of television extended into committee rooms. In 
1952, Rayburn decided to ban radio and television broadcasts of House 
committee hearings, reasoning it was an extension of the ban on 
televising House action. In 1957, the chair of the House Committee on 
Un-American Activities, Francis E. Walter (D-PA), implicitly challenged 
the ban by holding a televised field hearing in San Francisco. He was 
admonished by Rayburn sufficiently so that no other chair challenged the 
camera ban.\40\

\40\ Foote, ``The Speaker and the Media,'' in The Speaker: Leadership in 
the U.S. House of Representatives, p. 140.

                          Changing Environment

  While Rayburn was a master at using the press to play his inside game, 
the nature of the press and the relationship between the press and the 
politicians they covered began to change in such a way that Rayburn's 
successors, John McCormack (D-MA) and Carl Albert (D-OK), were not able 
to use the same relationship-based technique for their media plan.
  The Vietnam war and Watergate influenced the way reporters viewed both 
their jobs and Members of Congress. The two events combined to change 
the relationship between the reporters and their subjects into a much 
more confrontational posture. Added to that, the growth of television 
and broadcast as the way Americans were getting their news left Speakers 
such as McCormack struggling to cope with new demands from rank-and-file 
Democrats to be more of a national figure and party spokesman. That 
meant more air time, making television and radio speeches--a role 
McCormack was uncomfortable trying to fill. ``Both the presidency and 
the television networks grew in stature and visibility during the 1960s 
while Congress stood silently in the background.'' \41\

\41\ Ibid, p. 141.

  Elected to the speakership upon the death of Rayburn, McCormack served 
in the Office from 1962 until 1971. As early as 1967, however, there 
were rumblings among some House Democrats that Members wanted a more 
dynamic spokesman. ``The question now being asked by his Democratic 
critics is whether Mr. McCormack, with his gaunt, pale visage and his 
tendency to talk in patriotic platitudes, has either the intellectual 
drive or the proper public image to serve as a spokesman for the 
Democratic party over the next two years,'' wrote John W. Finney for the 
New York Times. He quoted an anonymous young Democratic House Member as 
saying ``The trouble with John McCormack is that he is completely out of 
touch with modern American politics.'' \42\

\42\ John W. Finney, ``McCormack, 77, Faces Increasing But Disorganized 
Criticism,'' New York Times, Dec. 22, 1968, p. 32.

  According to one study, McCormack was mentioned on the nightly news 
broadcasts of the three major networks 17 times in 1969. Five other 
Members of the House, including Minority Leader Gerald Ford were 
mentioned more frequently. In 1970, McCormack jumped to the front of the 
pack, being mentioned 46 times, but by 1971, he did not make the list of 
the top 15 House Members to be talked about on the evening news.\43\ 
However, it was during McCormack's speakership that the House authorized 
its committees to make their own decisions about whether to allow 
broadcast coverage of their hearings or meetings, thus overturning the 
ban that Rayburn put in place in 1952.

\43\ Timothy E. Cook, Making Laws and Making News: Media Strategies in 
the U.S. House of Representatives (Washington: Brookings Institution, 
1989), pp. 192-193.

  Carl Albert, Speaker from 1971 until 1977, also found it difficult to 
adapt to the new, changing media environment. When he was elected 
majority leader under McCormack in 1962, he noted that he had done so 
with very little media coverage. ``I never once got on television. The 
sum total of my national publicity was a [press] release when I got into 
the race and a [press] release when I got up to Washington saying I 
thought I had enough votes to win. I refused to go on television, 
although I was invited to go on most of the news and panel shows.'' \44\ 
Albert continued his low-profile style throughout his time in the 
leadership. ``As Majority Leader, Albert has attracted little national 
attention. He has made relatively few televised appearances and has 
introduced little legislation on his own,'' a feature story on Albert 

\44\ Robert L. Peabody, Leadership in Congress: Stability, Succession 
and Change (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1976), p. 77.

\45\ ``Carl Albert of Oklahoma: Next House Speaker,'' Congressional 
Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 28, Dec. 25, 1970, p. 3074.

  However, he did take some steps into the media age. Albert was the 
first Speaker to hire a press secretary. During Watergate, Albert took 
into account the massive needs of the press, going so far as to begin 
planning for possible broadcast of House impeachment proceedings against 
President Richard Nixon:

  While uneasy about the carnival atmosphere that was developing around 
the Judiciary Committee hearings, Speaker Albert tried hard to 
accommodate the television networks and the rest of the media. When the 
Judiciary Committee had completed its work, Speaker Albert authorized 
his staff to make plans for the televising of impeachment proceedings in 
the House. This was a key decision, because it represented a turnaround 
from Rayburn's strict ban on television in the House, which had been in 
effect since the day Albert came to Congress in 1947. Speaker Albert's 
willingness to open the House to television during this crucial moment 
in history paved the way for permanent access to the House five years 
later. \46\

\46\ Foote, ``The Speaker and the Media,'' in The Speaker: Leadership in 
the U.S. House of Representatives, p. 144.

                            A Media Celebrity

  Albert's successor, Thomas P. ``Tip'' O'Neill (D-MA) won rave reviews 
both inside and outside the House for his handling of the media. One 
reporter called him ``the first media celebrity in the history of the 
Speakership.'' \47\ Another attributed much of O'Neill's success to his 
management of the media:

\47\ Alan Ehrenhalt, ``Media, Power Shifts Dominate O'Neill's House,'' 
Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. XXX, Sept. 13, 1986, p. 

  O'Neill has built his mystique through the press. Albert feared the 
press. O'Neill plays with it like a cat with a mouse. He has killed the 
tough, post-Watergate press with candor and charm. Ask O'Neill about an 
alleged gambling ring in a House office building and whether he has 
quashed a Justice Department investigation into it. O'Neill says no, he 
knew nothing about it. Then he regales the press with stories and mottos 
about gambling. He tells the story of going to the Pimlico racetrack as 
a young congressman and meeting J. Edgar Hoover there. Hoover offers him 
a lift. He accepts. When they get back to town, Hoover discovers he has 
taken the wrong car from the parking lot. There are no more questions 
about the gambling ring.\48\

\48\ Mary Russell, ``Speaker Scooping Up Power in the House,'' 
Washington Post, Aug. 7, 1977, p. 1.

  O'Neill responded to the changing demands of the media by adopting new 

  When I became majority leader in Washington, I was interviewed 
constantly. I was always happy to talk to the press, but I drew the line 
at the Sunday morning talk shows on television. After a full work week, 
consisting of long days and frequent late evenings, I insisted on 
keeping my weekends free for my family and friends. In 1977, when I 
became Speaker, I started meeting with TV reporters each morning when I 
arrived at work. Later in the morning, I would hold a news conference 
before the House opened. I always told the truth, and almost never 
answered with ``no comment.'' Ninety-nine percent of the time, if you're 
straight with the press, they'll be straight with you.\49\

\49\ Tip O'Neill with William Novak, Man of the House: The Life and 
Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O'Neill (New York: Random House, 1987), 
p. 227

  O'Neill realized, too, that he could use the daily Speaker's press 
conference to get the party's message out to the public, as well as 
fellow Members of Congress.\50\

\50\ Ibid., p. 285.

  Despite concerns from his fellow Members, O'Neill agreed to allow C-
SPAN broadcasts of House floor action, beginning in 1979, a decision he 
would later say was one of the best he made as Speaker.\51\

\51\ Ibid, p. 288.

  As skillful as O'Neill was with the press, it was the 1980 election of 
Republican President Ronald Reagan and a Republican Senate that really 
thrust the Speaker on to the national stage. ``In the aftermath of the 
Republican takeover of the Senate in the 1980 elections, the press 
anointed Speaker O'Neill--now clearly the highest-ranked Democrat in 
Washington--as chief Democratic spokesman and thus enhanced his media 
access,'' wrote one congressional scholar.\52\

\52\ Barbara Sinclair, ``Tip O'Neill and Contemporary House 
Leadership,'' in Masters of the House, p. 309.

  Democrats took a page from Reagan's playbook to urge O'Neill to 
challenge Reagan's policies--frequently and publicly.

  In the early 1980s Ronald Reagan taught House Democrats a lesson about 
the uses of the media that altered their expectations of their own 
leaders. Reagan's media skills and the favorable political climate 
allowed him to dominate public debate and thereby dictate the policy 
agenda and propagate a highly negative image of the Democratic party. 
Unable as individuals to counter this threat to their policy and 
reelection goals, Democrats expected their leaders to take on the task, 
to participate effectively in national political discourse and thereby 
promote the membership's policy agenda and protect and enhance the 
party's image. Unlike rank-and-file House members, the party leadership 
did have considerable access to the national media.\53\

\53\ Ibid, p. 290.

  It was a part of a growing realization that the climate of Congress 
itself had changed. No longer was it enough to make the case for 
legislation within the Capitol, the public needed to be involved as 
well. ``A decade ago, nearly all influential House members would have 
said that legislative arguments are won on the floor, by the tireless 
personal cultivation of colleagues. Nowadays, many of them say that sort 
of work is only part of the story. Increasingly, they believe, floor 
fights are won by orchestrating a campaign aimed over the heads of the 
members, at the country at large. . . . `Sometimes to pass a bill,' 
[House Majority Leader] Foley says, `you have to change the attitude of 
the country.' '' \54\

\54\ Ibid.

  Speaker O'Neill used his Office as a ``bully pulpit'' to challenge the 
Reagan White House, particularly during his daily press briefings:

  An O'Neill press conference these days is a media event, not only 
because dozens of print and broadcast reporters crowd his office to hear 
him, but because much of what he says is designed for their benefit. 
O'Neill often begins with a prepared statement challenging one or 
another aspect of Reagan administration policy, drafted for him by press 
secretary Christopher J. Matthews, a glib wordsmith and specialist in 
one-liners. Often, O'Neill's comments are repeated on the evening news 
that night; even more often they are printed in the New York Times or 
the Washington Post the next day.\55\

\55\ Ehrenhalt, ``Media, Power Shifts Dominate O'Neill's House,'' p. 

  Republicans saw this as an opportunity to use O'Neill as a target for 
their anti-Democrat campaign--a strategy that did not succeed:

  As part of their 1982 election campaign, Republicans tried to make the 
Speaker, a heavy, rumpled man with a cartoonist's dream of an old pol 
face, into a symbol of big, out-of-control government; generic ads with 
an O'Neill look-alike were run nationwide. As a result, O'Neill became 
much better known to the public at large than any Speaker before him. 
(Presumably much to the Republicans' surprise, by the mid-1980s O'Neill 
not only became a nationally known figure but a highly popular one.) 

\56\ Sinclair, ``Tip O'Neill and Contemporary House Leadership,'' in 
Masters of the House, p. 309.

  At the end of his speakership, Tip O'Neill was a nationally known 
figure. ``Sam Rayburn could have walked down the streets of Spokane, 
Wash., without anybody noticing him,'' Majority Whip Thomas S. Foley of 
Washington [said in 1986], ``Tip O'Neill couldn't do that. And it's very 
unlikely that any future Speaker will be anonymous to the country.'' 

\57\ Ehrenhalt, ``Media, Power Shifts Dominate O'Neill's House,'' p. 

  O'Neill remained a popular public figure after leaving office in 1986. 
``That Speaker O'Neill's autobiography was a best seller and that he 
received contracts for a variety of high profile commercial endorsements 
after leaving office showed just how high a Speaker's visibility could 
climb in the television age,'' wrote one scholar.\58\

\58\ Foote, ``The Speaker and the Media,'' in The Speaker: Leadership in 
the U.S. House of Representatives, p. 150.

                         Democrats after O'Neill

  Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) continued in the steps of his predecessor, 
reaching out to the press and maintaining high visibility as an 
outspoken opponent of many Reagan administration policies, particularly 
those in Central America. His relationship with the media had peaks and 
valleys and some of his encounters with the press became verbal battles. 
``Speaker Wright courted the media aggressively and was more available 
for television appearances than any of his predecessors. . . . Yet, he 
also had a more contentious relationship with journalists than previous 
Speakers, once calling them `enemies of government.' '' \59\

\59\ Ibid, p. 151.

  Wright and the Democratic leadership of the House decided to use the 
daily press conference even more than O'Neill had to push their 
priorities. The leadership would meet prior to the press conference and 
create a message for the day. ``Upon completion of the press conference, 
the other party leaders would remain to talk to reporters in an effort 
to reinforce Wright's points. Wright also extended contacts to broadcast 
reporters immediately following the daily print meeting.'' \60\

\60\ Douglas B. Harris, ``The Rise of the Public Speakership,'' 
Political Science Quarterly, vol. 113, Summer 1998, pp. 201-202.

  When Wright resigned as Speaker in May 1989, his successor, Thomas S. 
Foley, had a much warmer relationship with the press. Foley cultivated 
reporters by, among other things, having regular early morning 
breakfasts with the Capitol's bureau chiefs and major newspaper 
columnists.\61\ He also decided to release an unedited transcript of the 
daily press conferences, which made it easier for reporters to check 
their quotes and for those reporters who had missed the session to know 
what had happened. Foley's relationship with the press is evidenced by 
the following anecdote:

\61\ Jeffrey R. Biggs and Thomas S. Foley, Honor in the House (Pullman, 
WA: Washington State University Press, 1999), p. 114.

  Symbolic of Foley's relationship with the congressional press was the 
press conference day when members of the press presented him with a T-
shirt that many of them had shown up wearing. A cartoon from the 
Baltimore Sun portrayed the Speaker as a bonneted and exasperated nanny 
surrounded by a pack of childlike adults dressed in knickers and in the 
middle of a food fight. The text quoted Foley from his June 10, 1993 
press conference when he was asked whether there was a lack of 
leadership being marshaled on behalf of the president's agenda. Foley's 
response: Everybody is exercising sufficient leadership. It is the 
followership we are having trouble with.\62\

\62\ Biggs, Honor in the House, p. 131, italics in original.

  Foley recognized the limits of what he could do in his daily meeting 
with the press. ``While the traditional daily Speaker's press conference 
served to influence the perceptions of opinion leaders in Congress and 
the congressional media, it proved to be a very limited vehicle for 
reaching the American people,'' he wrote in his book.\63\

\63\ Quoted in Ibid., p. 180.

  Foley wrote that he wondered if he should have opened up the daily 
briefings, known to reporters as pad and pen briefings, to broadcast 
media. ``If I had it to do over again, I would have experimented 
occasionally with radio and television coverage. The electronic media 
were represented at the press conferences, but without tape recorders or 
cameras. It was, perhaps, an anachronism for a Speaker to be carrying on 
his principal communication with the press through the print media at 
the same time that the entire House proceedings were being carried live 
on cable television's C-SPAN.'' \64\ Foley acknowledged that the 
audience he wanted to reach required a broader outlet:

\64\ Ibid., pp. 180-181.

  When you went on a television program you were trying to reach the 
public, the press beyond the program itself, and your own congressional 
colleagues. It depends on the issue, but part of the way you influence 
your colleagues is by having some impact on public opinion and creating 
a mood or attitude toward legislation, or explaining what might 
otherwise be difficult for the public to understand. You don't do that 
all alone, but it's part of the task of being Speaker to try to explain 
the Congress to justify what might be unpopular legislation, to defend 
the institution during periods when it comes under fire or attack. I 
think members appreciate that.\65\

\65\ Ibid., p. 128.

                        A Television-Age Speaker

  No other Speaker to date has had the media exposure of Newt Gingrich 
(R-GA), nor experienced the highs and lows of such coverage in such a 
short period of time (he was Speaker from 1995 to 1999). In part, 
Gingrich's appeal to the media was based on his long-standing reliance 
on reporters to convey his message to the public. Elected to the House 
at the same time that cameras for C-SPAN began covering House floor 
action, Gingrich became well known to C-SPAN watchers for delivering 
impassioned 1-hour speeches after the daily business of the House 
sessions was completed. It was C-SPAN that elevated his national 
visibility, especially after one contentious episode.
  As one reporter noted, Gingrich spoke daily to:

  [A] sea of empty seats and a nationwide C-SPAN audience largely 
unaware that the chamber was deserted. This practice so nettled Speaker 
Thomas P. ``Tip'' O'Neill of Massachusetts that he ordered the camera 
operators to pull back and expose the charade. The fracas that followed 
led O'Neill to lose his temper and speak of Gingrich's behavior as ``the 
lowest thing I've ever seen.'' O'Neill's remark had to be stricken from 
the record as an offense to House rules, the first time since 1797 a 
Speaker had been rebuked for language.\66\

\66\ Ronald D. Elving, ``CQ Roundtable: The Media Whirlwind of Speaker 
Gingrich,'' CQ Weekly, vol. 51, Dec. 9, 1995, p. 3774. Online version.

  In brief, Gingrich's use of the media likely contributed to his 
``climb up the leadership ladder,'' and eventual election as 

\67\ Sinclair, ``Tip O'Neill and Contemporary House Leadership,'' in 
Masters of the House, p. 315.

  Gingrich became Speaker when media coverage of Congress was increasing 
both in kind and in frequency, from the number of print media outlets to 
Internet publications to radio talk shows. As Gingrich stated: ``But by 
January of 1995, when the new Contract with America class was being 
sworn in, the amount of congressional media coverage had expanded 
immensely. In addition to C-SPAN, there was now CNN, a twenty-four-hours 
a day news channel, a daily Congressional Quarterly bulletin, and two 
`local' newspapers, Roll Call and The Hill. In short, we now had a giant 
screen and loudspeaker to catch all our missteps and misstatements.'' 

\68\ Gingrich, Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Personal Report, p. 5.

  As Speaker, Gingrich decided to permit television and radio coverage 
of his daily press briefings. Gingrich explains the decision like this:

  Because we had been so successful at getting our message out before 
the election, my press secretary Tony Blankley and I still hoped that we 
might still get at least part of the press on our side. So we decided to 
hold daily televised press briefings. The daily press briefing was an 
institution that Democratic Speakers had used for years, but their 
briefings had been restricted to reporters without cameras. We on the 
other hand had decided to show how bold and up-to-the-minute media-wise 
we were. . . . CNN indicated how important it considered these briefings 
by carrying them live. That alone should have been the tip-off to us 
that we were playing with fire. But we plunged on. It will thus surprise 
no one to learn that our press briefings turned out to be an ongoing 
headache. They got to be little more than a game of ``pin the tail on 
the Speaker.'' \69\

\69\ Ibid., pp. 36-37.

  A congressional reporter who covered Gingrich on a daily basis 
explained the significance of allowing media coverage of the Speaker's 

  In the pre-camera era, speakers comfortably gave one-word answers and 
reporters barked out short, cryptic questions. In the camera era, 
answers go on for pages and the questions are elaborate, even 
pretentious. . . . In the pre-camera era, the reporters who gathered 
around the speaker's desk in his private office were mostly anonymous 
worker-bees. In the camera era, network White House correspondents 
swallow their pride and settle their expensive suits into one of the 
coveted eight seats at Gingrich's table . . . . In the pre-camera era, 
reporters could run through a dozen or so questions. Jokes were welcome. 
Humor is a rarity in the camera era--after all, editors have television 
sets, too. . . . With a regular crowd of about 30 newspaper and magazine 
reporters and TV producers, Gingrich starts the 20-minute briefing with 
an opening monologue.\70\

\70\ Jeanne Cummings, ``When Gingrich Holds Court, Washington Listens,'' 
Austin American-Statesman, Apr. 2, 1995, p. J1.

  After a particularly intense exchange between Gingrich and a reporter 
for Pacifica Radio, the Speaker decided to pull the plug on the daily 
press briefings. They had lasted just a few months of 1995. ``Tony 
Blankley, a spokesman for Gingrich, said May 2, that the decision was 
due to `excessively flamboyant questions' from reporters. The staff was 
also concerned that as they made the Speaker available to meet the daily 
and varying demands of reporters, Gingrich was in the limelight far too 
often. In all, Gingrich had 30 briefings between Jan. 4 and March 29 
before stopping the sessions.'' \71\ During the remainder of his 
speakership, Gingrich met irregularly with reporters. His successor, J. 
Dennis Hastert (R-IL) conducts infrequent ``pad and pen'' briefings with 

\71\ Donna Cassata, ``Gingrich to End News Briefings,'' CQ Weekly, vol. 
51, May 6, 1995, p. 1224. Online version.

  The media were also at the heart of what Gingrich called the ``single 
most avoidable mistake I made during my first three years as Speaker.'' 
He calls it the saga of Air Force One.\72\

\72\ Gingrich, Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Personal Report, p. 42.

  Israeli Prime Minister Rabin had been assassinated in November 1995. 
President Bill Clinton flew to Israel for the funeral and asked several 
Members to join him on Air Force One, including Speaker Gingrich and 
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS). At the time, President Clinton 
and congressional Republicans were having trouble agreeing on how to 
address the budget for that year, problems that eventually led several 
Federal agencies to close down later that year because they had not 
received an appropriation. The Republicans had hoped that on the plane 
ride back from Rabin's funeral they might have an opportunity to sit 
down and discuss the budget situation with the President. But Gingrich 
and Dole were seated at the back of the plane, and they did not have the 
opportunity to speak with Clinton about this. In addition, Gingrich and 
Dole were asked to deplane from the rear, again nowhere near Clinton.
  Several days later, Gingrich went to a morning breakfast to talk with 
reporters. There, he says he told reporters that the plane incident 
showed how hard it was to do business with the Clinton administration.

  ``If he is genuinely interested in reaching an agreement with us,'' I 
said, ``why didn't he discuss one with us when we were only a few feet 
away on an airplane?'' Then, I continued, digging my grave a little 
deeper, ``if he wanted to indicate his seriousness about working with 
us, why did he leave the plane by himself and make us go out the back 
way?'' I said it was both selfish and self-destructive for the President 
to hog the media by walking down those steps from the plane alone 
instead of showing a little bipartisanship precisely when he claimed he 
wanted to reach an agreement with us . . . By now my press secretary 
Tony Blankley was positively white with horror . . . The story exploded 
almost immediately. Of all the papers, and there were quite a few who 
put the story on the front page, the worst was the New York Daily News, 
which ran a banner headline on page one that read simply, ``Crybaby.'' 

\73\ Ibid., pp. 44-45.

  Blankley characterized the next few days after the story broke as the 
``single worst press moment'' of Gingrich's career. It ``all but 
destroyed his speakership,'' he said.\74\ The loss of GOP House seats in 
November 1996 and particularly in 1998 also contributed to the end of 
Gingrich's career in the House.

\74\ Tony Blankley, Washington Times editorial page editor, telephone 
conversation with author, Aug. 20, 2003.


  The relationship between the Speaker and the press, in sum, depends to 
a great extent on the individual style of the leader, the context of the 
times (whether he is the opposition party leader, for example) and the 
constantly changing media technology. It is unclear, for example, 
whether Speaker Longworth would be as successful with the press now, in 
the days of instant Internet news and live television coverage, as he 
was when personal relationships were the key to getting his message out.
  The individual style of the current Speaker, J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), 
appears to be headed down a different path from his predecessor 
Gingrich. While Speaker Hastert does not show the blanket antipathy 
toward television that Sam Rayburn did, neither does he invite the 
                                Chapter 6

                     The Speaker and the President:

                        Conflict and Cooperation

                            R. Eric Petersen

                 Analyst in American National Government

                     Congressional Research Service


  It is all very well for the President of the United States to suggest 
to Congress a forward-looking legislative program. That is one of the 
duties of the President. It is a horse of another color to get such a 
program accepted by even the President's own party in either House or 
Senate . . . To accomplish this result it was necessary for the 
President and the Speaker to work in close harmony.\1\

\1\ Joseph Gurney Cannon, The Memoirs of Joseph Gurney ``Uncle Joe'' 
Cannon, transcribed by Helen Leseure Abdill (Danville, IL: Vermilion 
County Museum Society, 1996), p. 128.

                       Joseph G. Cannon, Speaker of the House, 1903-1911

  Under the Constitution, Congress and the executive branch are coequal. 
While the Constitution does not specify the relationship between the 
Speaker of the House and the President of the United States, it has been 
the practice in the past century that the Speaker regularly interacts 
with the President on a variety of legislative and political matters. In 
modern practice, political realities dictate that the Speaker and 
President regularly work together as policymaking partners. In that 
reality lies the potential for both tension and controversy. As 
political scientist Harold Laski wrote, ``the President is at no point 
the master of the legislature. He can indicate a path of action to 
Congress. He can argue, bully, persuade, cajole; but he is always 
outside Congress, and subject to a will he cannot dominate.'' \2\ On the 
congressional side, the constitutionally grounded position of equality 
is exemplified by Speaker Sam Rayburn. In an ABC news interview near the 
end of his life, Speaker Rayburn asserted the constitutional position 
between Speaker and President in the five decades he served in the 
House. Angered at a reporter's suggestion of subservience to the 
President, Rayburn replied, ``I never served under any President. I 
served with eight.'' \3\

\2\ Harold J. Laski, The American Presidency, An Interpretation 
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1940), p. 13.

\3\ Paul F. Boller, Congressional Anecdotes (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1991), p. 227, italics in original. See also Joseph Martin, My 
Fifty Years in Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960), p. 180 and Neil 
MacNeil, Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives (New York: 
David McKay, Co., 1961), p. 67.

  Much has been written about the Presidents who have served during the 
past century, but observers note that comparatively little has been 
written about the Speakers. Twenty years ago, then-Speaker Thomas P. 
O'Neill suggested that ``there is a great deal more we need to know 
about the history of the office and the lives of the men who have been 
Speaker.'' \4\ Observers note that an area of inquiry that is poorly 
understood is how the Speaker and the President interact as leaders of 
their respective branches. In the past century, 17 men have served as 
Speaker of the House of Representatives,\5\ while 18 others have been 
President of the United States.\6\ As national political leaders, the 
Speaker and President undertake a number of similar public functions. 
Each leader is in the public eye through speeches, appearances on radio 
and television, press conferences, and the print media. The President 
and the Speaker each publicize the achievements of their branches. They 
also assist their party members seeking election and reelection. When 
the majority party in the House is not the same as that of the 
President, the Speaker may act as a spokesman for the loyal opposition. 
Acts of Congress become law only when signed by the Speaker, presiding 
officer of the Senate, and the President. By statute, the Speaker is 
second in line, behind the Vice President, to succeed to the 

\4\ Thomas P. O'Neill, Foreword in Donald R. Kennon, The Speakers of the 
U.S. House of Representatives: A Bibliography, 1789-1984 (Baltimore, MD: 
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. xxiii.

\5\ Those who have served in the past 100 years as Speaker of the House, 
and their years of service as Speaker, are: Joseph G. Cannon, 1903-1911; 
James B. ``Champ'' Clark, 1911-1919; Frederick H. Gillett, 1919-1925; 
Nicholas Longworth, 1925-1931; John Nance Garner, 1931-1933; Henry T. 
Rainey, 1933-1934; Joseph W. Byrns, 1935-1936; William B. Bankhead, 
1936-1940; Sam Rayburn, 1940-1947, 1949-1953, and 1955-1961; Joseph W. 
Martin, Jr., 1947-1949, and 1953-1955; John W. McCormack, 1962-1970; 
Carl Albert, 1971-1977; Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., 1977-1987; James C. 
Wright, Jr., 1987-1989; Thomas S. Foley, 1989-1995; Newt Gingrich, 1995-
1999; and J. Dennis Hastert, 1999-  .

\6\ Those who have served in the past 100 years as President of the 
United States, and their years in office, are Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-
1909; William Howard Taft, 1909-1913; Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921; Warren 
G. Harding, 1921-1923; Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929; Herbert C. Hoover, 
1929-1933; Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945; Harry S Truman, 1945-1953; 
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961; John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963; Lyndon B. 
Johnson, 1963-1969; Richard M. Nixon, 1969-1974; Gerald R. Ford, 1974-
1977; Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981; Ronald W. Reagan, 1981-1989; George H.W. 
Bush, 1989-1993; William J. Clinton, 1993-2001; and George W. Bush, 
2001-  .

\7\ The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 380) provides that 
if ``there is neither a President nor Vice President to discharge the 
powers and duties of the office of the President, then the Speaker of 
the House of Representatives shall, upon his resignation as Speaker and 
as Representative in Congress, act as President.'' To succeed to the 
Presidency, a Speaker would also need to qualify under the terms of 
Article II, Section 5 of the Constitution, which requires that the 
President be a ``natural-born citizen,'' at least 35 years of age, and a 
resident within the United States for 14 years. No Speaker has succeeded 
to the Presidency under these conditions. The 1947 law superseded the 
Succession Act of 1886 (24 Stat. 1), which placed in the line of 
Presidential succession after the Vice President the Cabinet officers in 
the chronological order in which their departments were created.

  While the activities of these two leaders may often be similar, 
relations between the Speaker and the President are complex and 
influenced by a number of factors. Their relationships are influenced by 
the Constitution, policy necessities, perceived prerogatives of the 
executive and legislative branches, world events, domestic politics, and 
their personalities and governing styles. At different times, these 
factors have the potential to create divergent personal, political, and 
institutional consequences. Understandably, the relationship between the 
two officials has been marked by periods of both conflict and 
cooperation. On occasion, the relationship between the Speaker and the 
President attracts widespread public notice due to an isolated incident 
that comes to the attention of the public. In spring 1991, for example, 
President George H.W. Bush came to the Capitol to deliver an address to 
a joint session of Congress regarding the role of the U.S. military in 
operations leading to the liberation of Kuwait. Departing from the 
typical protocol of these occasions, Speaker Thomas Foley said:

  Mr. President, it is customary in joint sessions for the Chair to 
present the President to the Members of Congress directly and without 
further comment. But I wish to depart from tradition tonight and express 
to you, on behalf of the Congress and the country, and, through you, to 
the members of our Armed Forces our warmest congratulations on the 
brilliant victory of the Desert Storm Operation.\8\

\8\ Speaker Thomas Foley, ``Joint Session of the House and Senate Held 
Pursuant to the Provisions of House Concurrent Resolution 83 to Hear an 
Address by the President of the United States,'' remarks in the House, 
Congressional Record, vol. 137, Mar. 6, 1991, p. 5140.

  Although Speakers may support Presidential actions, there also have 
been important instances of institutional, political, and even personal 
conflict between the two leaders over the past century. Seemingly 
isolated or trivial events may upset the relationship between the 
Speaker and the President in a much greater fashion than the incident 
appeared to warrant at the time. Noteworthy among such incidents are the 
   In fall 1995, Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Members of 
Congress were reportedly angry with President Bill Clinton over his 
treatment of congressional leaders during a diplomatic trip. Gingrich 
and Clinton had traveled together on Air Force One with a delegation of 
current and former U.S. officials to attend the funeral of Israeli Prime 
Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had been assassinated. Before the trip, 
congressional leaders were negotiating with President Clinton to set 
spending levels for the Federal Government, but the leaders held no 
talks regarding the budget during the flights between Washington, DC, 
and Tel Aviv. On arrival in Israel, the President exited Air Force One 
through the main door. The Speaker was reportedly angered that he and 
other officials, including Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, and 
former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, were asked to 
disembark through the plane's rear door.\9\

\9\ John E. Yang and Eric Pianin, ``Interim Measures Advance in House; 
Spending, Debt Bills Include Provisions Strongly Opposed by Clinton,'' 
Washington Post, Nov. 8, 1995, p. A4; Todd S. Purdue, ``November 5-11: 
on Air Force One, Cabin Fever,'' New York Times, Nov. 12, 1995, p. 4; 
and Newt Gingrich, Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Personal Report (New 
York: Harper Collins, 1998), pp. 42-46.

   The evening before President Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 
1977, a gala was held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing 
Arts. Speaker O'Neill and his wife were to be seated with the President-
elect and Mrs. Carter. Speaker O'Neill requested an additional dozen 
tickets for friends and members of his family, and White House staff 
reportedly assured him that his guests would be seated near the stage in 
an area reserved for Members of Congress. In his autobiography, Speaker 
O'Neill described searching the audience for his relatives and friends. 
After the program, he was reunited with them and told that their seats 
were in the last row of the second balcony. On Inauguration Day, Speaker 
O'Neill, concerned about the tone the incident set between Congress and 
the White House, reportedly telephoned a senior Carter adviser to relate 
his displeasure. In a short time, the new President's adviser appeared 
in the Speaker's office to apologize in person and assure the Speaker 
that the seating arrangements were the result of a mistake. In his 
autobiography, Speaker O'Neill indicated that he had doubts about the 
sincerity of the apology, saying that as far as he could see, the aide 
appeared to regard ``a House Speaker as something you bought on sale at 
Radio Shack. I could see that this was just the beginning of my problems 
with these guys.'' \10\

\10\ Tip O'Neill with William Novak, Man of the House: The Life and 
Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O'Neill (New York: Random House, 1987), 
pp. 310-311. See also John Aloysius Farrell, Tip O'Neill and the 
Democratic Century (New York: Little, Brown, 2001), pp. 450-453.

   During President Theodore Roosevelt's administration, dinners 
were held to honor the Cabinet, diplomatic corps and members of the 
Supreme Court. An invitation to these affairs was routinely extended to 
Speaker Joseph Cannon, who usually declined, often at the last minute, 
because he objected to seating arrangements that did not recognize his 
position in government. For the 1905 Supreme Court dinner, Cannon 
reportedly learned he was to be seated below the Associate Justices of 
the Supreme Court at the banquet table. On the basis of his position as 
Speaker, Cannon thought it more appropriate to be seated next in line to 
the Chief Justice of the United Sates and the Vice President, with the 
Associate Justices, who were among the honored guests, seated after him. 
In a letter to President Roosevelt, Speaker Cannon reportedly wrote that 
``even if `a wooden Indian' were Speaker of the House, he would deserve 
that courtesy.'' Shortly thereafter, President Roosevelt instituted a 
dinner to honor the Speaker, and to invite no one in government who 
might be seated more prominently than the guest of honor.\11\

\11\ See William Rea Gwinn, Uncle Joe Cannon, Archfoe of the Insurgency: 
A History of the Rise and Fall of Cannonism (New York: Bookman 
Associates, 1957), pp. 79-80; and Irwin Hood Hoover, Forty-Two Years at 
the White House (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934), pp. 2992-2993. In his 
memoirs, Speaker Cannon remembered a Presidential dinner given to honor 
the diplomatic corps. Due to a scheduling conflict, the Speaker asked 
the President's leave not to attend. Alluding to the importance placed 
on such matters by other Members of the House, and precedent established 
by Speaker Thomas Reed, who reportedly would not attend functions when 
other government officials might outrank him, Cannon suggested that he 
and Roosevelt discuss the matter and seek the assistance of the State 
Department's protocol experts. The outcome of these discussions was the 
Speaker's dinner. See Joseph Gurney Cannon, The Memoirs, pp. 123-124. 
While the dinners for the Speaker continued after Roosevelt left office, 
their efficacy was somewhat diminished. President William Howard Taft 
continued the tradition of honoring the Speaker with an annual dinner, 
and was accused of associating himself too closely with what some 
observers thought was Cannon's autocratic style of overseeing the House.

  Despite periodic conflicts between the two leaders, the Speaker and 
President must work together if policy proposals are to be enacted into 
law. As Speaker Joseph Cannon stated, ``a President without both houses 
of Congress back of him doesn't amount to much more than a cat without 
claws . . .'' \12\ To better understand the relationship between a 
Speaker and President, this chapter describes how two Speakers, Joseph 
Gurney Cannon, and Sam Rayburn, and two Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt 
and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, interacted on the national stage. The two 
pairs of leaders were chosen for pragmatic and practical purposes. The 
election of Representative Cannon as Speaker marked the high point of 
the autocratic speakership. Representative Rayburn's career in Congress 
spanned 48 years, and the administrations of 8 Presidents, with Rayburn 
serving as Speaker during periods in which the House and speakership 
were vastly changed from Cannon's time.

\12\ ``Wise Sayings that Made Joe Cannon the Sage of His Party,'' 
Chicago Tribune, Nov. 13, 1926, p. 4.

  A review of the Speaker-President relationship during two contrasting 
periods underscores the importance of political context, leadership, and 
working relationships between leaders in shaping policy outcomes. The 
first examines how President Theodore Roosevelt had to deal with Speaker 
Cannon's ``command and control'' leadership of the House. As Speaker, 
Cannon dominated the Chamber and all its committees. He often worked to 
block Roosevelt's initiatives, which contributed to the revolt against 
him by progressive Republicans and minority Democrats. By comparison, 
Speaker Rayburn led a committee-centered institution where southern 
committee chairs exercised large sway over the fate of Presidential 
proposals. Rayburn employed a pragmatic leadership style of bargaining, 
employing political and personal cajolery to win legislative victories 
for President Franklin Roosevelt.

     Conflict Between Leaders: Joseph Cannon and Theodore Roosevelt

  By fall 1902, several weeks before the adjournment of the 57th 
Congress (1901-1903), members of President Theodore Roosevelt's 
administration concluded that Representative Joseph Gurney Cannon of 
Illinois, then-chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, would be 
elected Speaker at the commencement of the 58th Congress (1903-1905). 
The two men knew each other from the periods when Roosevelt served at 
various times as Civil Service Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the 
Navy, and Vice President of the United States under William McKinley. 
During Roosevelt's time with the Civil Service Commission, for example, 
the agency had its budget cut by the House Committee on 
Appropriations.\13\ For his part, Cannon said that his impressions of 
Roosevelt from these earlier contacts were not positive.\14\ This 
unfavorable opinion appears to have grown out of the two leaders' 
divergent governing and political philosophies.

\13\ Scott William Rager, The Fall of the House of Cannon: Uncle Joe and 
His Enemies, 1903-1910 (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign, 1991), pp. 34-49.

\14\ Cannon, The Memoirs, p. 127.

  Roosevelt believed that the government should be the great arbiter of 
the conflicting economic forces in the Nation, especially between 
capital and labor, guaranteeing justice to each and dispensing favors to 
none. By contrast, Speaker Cannon's world view was developed by his 
early experiences as a self-made man, who had started adult life as a 
store clerk. Cannon described how his life's experience had impressed 
him ``with the value of conservatism, and warned me against advocating 
`change for change's sake.' The span of 30 years in Congress, before I 
became Speaker, had borne in upon me the dangers that lay in catch 
phrases, and popular slogans, and the difficulty of transforming 
reforming ideals into legislation that could be got through the Congress 
of the United States in recognizable form, and that would work after it 
became law.'' \15\

\15\ Ibid., p. 128.

  In spite of such widely divergent views, it is noteworthy that both 
leaders made a generally successful effort to work together. With 
Cannon's ascendance to the Speaker's chair all but assured, members of 
Roosevelt's Cabinet conveyed congratulations to the incoming Speaker. 
Included in the congratulations were assurances that the President and 
his Cabinet understood that, regarding Roosevelt's policies, ``nothing 
could be done unless there was a `very general consent in Congress.' '' 
\16\ President Roosevelt personally took steps to cultivate an improved 
relationship with Cannon. In August 1903, Roosevelt met with several 
Senate leaders in his summer home in Oyster Bay, NY, to discuss proposed 
currency and financial legislation.\17\ When the meetings were finished, 
the President wrote to Cannon to assure him that no financial plan would 
be proposed without first taking into account the views of the House. 
After summarizing his discussions with the Senators, the President asked 
Cannon, ``Now what are your views on the subject? We are all decided 
that of course we would not make up our minds in any way until we found 
out what your judgement was.'' \18\ Cannon reportedly responded that, 
with a Presidential election to be held in 1904, he saw little benefit 
from considering financial legislation.

\16\ Gwinn, Uncle Joe Cannon, p. 74.

\17\ The legislative proposal considered at the Oyster Bay meeting was 
the Aldrich bill, after Senator Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich of Rhode Island. 
The proposal would have authorized the use of customs receipts and 
nongovernmental securities as the basis for the issuance of currency.

\18\ Gwinn, Uncle Joe Cannon, pp. 74-77.

  In November 1903, a month before the legislature was scheduled to 
convene, President Roosevelt called the 58th Congress into special 
session to consider Cuban reciprocity, but not financial issues.\19\ 
With the speakership vacant, however, House rules dictated that the 
first order of business was the election of Joseph Cannon as the new 
Speaker. On assuming the post, Cannon and Roosevelt worked to build an 
effective working relationship. Throughout their time as leaders, 
Roosevelt and Cannon met regularly to discuss measures that Congress was 
to consider. President Roosevelt wrote informally to the Speaker 
regarding matters before the House. The material in these missives could 
be used by the Speaker as he saw fit to persuade other Members regarding 
the President's positions.\20\ In his autobiography, Speaker Cannon 
noted that, during the time he was Speaker and Roosevelt was the 
President, ``Mr Roosevelt and I were on terms of full and free 
consultation. I went often to the White House in the evening, and the 
President came to my house at times to talk things over. When we 
differed, in principle or method, we were frank about it, and threshed 
the problem out to the end.'' \21\

\19\ No legislation was passed during the special session, because the 
Senate was unable to reach agreement on its own measure, and did not 
adopt the version passed by the House.

\20\ Under the rules of the House, formal written communications from 
the President of the United States to the Speaker of the House would be 
referred to the appropriate committee.

\21\ Cannon, The Memoirs, p. 131.

  For Roosevelt, Cannon was the spokesman for a majority of the House 
and a sounding board for the activist President. Roosevelt reportedly 
conferred with the Speaker regarding all of his serious legislative 
initiatives before making them public. Other notes reassured the Speaker 
that the President would work with him despite publication in newspapers 
of claims to the contrary. In one note to Cannon, who had returned to 
his Illinois district between sessions, Roosevelt implored the Speaker 
to visit the White House on his return to Washington, and dismissed 
press speculation regarding differences between the two:

  Stop in here as soon as you can. I care very little for what the 
newspapers get in the way of passing sensationalism; but I do not want 
the people of the country to get the idea that there will be any split 
or clash between you and me . . .\22\

\22\ Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Joseph Cannon, Jan. 13, 1905, in 
Elting E. Morison, ed., The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 8 vols. 
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1951), vol. 4, p. 1101.

  While Roosevelt and Cannon were mostly able to look past public 
speculation regarding their political relationship and work together, 
the Speaker took care that the President was not given free rein by the 
House. Cannon recognized that when a forceful, activist chief executive 
was in office, the legislature could sometimes be led by the executive. 
The Speaker's position was that while executive leadership was likely, 
the House must not be driven by a President, and that ``Roosevelt was 
apt to try to drive'' it.\23\ Consequently Cannon's task was to move the 
President's programs forward in a House where some members had deep 
reservations regarding the President's progressive inclinations. 
Personally, Speaker Cannon, too, viewed certain Roosevelt policies with 
dismay. Their disagreements, Cannon suggested, occurred because 
``Roosevelt had the ambition to do things; I had the more confined 
outlook of the legislator who had to consider ways of meeting 
expenditures of the new departures and expansions in government.'' \24\

\23\ Cannon, The Memoirs, p. 129.

\24\ L. White Busbey, Uncle Joe Cannon: The Story of a Pioneer American, 
(New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927, republished 1970), pp. 217-218.

  A discussion regarding the President's 1905 annual message to Congress 
illustrates the different outlooks of the two leaders. In preparing the 
message, Roosevelt enquired of congressional leaders as to the 
possibility of revising the tariff. Based on those discussions, 
Roosevelt sent Cannon, who was at his home in Danville, IL, a draft of 
what he would say. The draft statement included a proposal that Congress 
create a minimum and maximum scale for setting tariffs that could be put 
into force at the discretion of the Executive. Cannon viewed this 
proposal as a power grab by the White House. On returning to Washington, 
Cannon and Roosevelt discussed the matter further. In the course of 
these discussions, which Cannon described as ``very frank,'' the Speaker 
suggested that tariff legislation not be concluded during the lame duck 
session of the 58th Congress.\25\ When the President's message arrived 
on Capitol Hill, it included legislative proposals to expand the 
authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission to fix railroad rates, a 
number of measures related to the District of Columbia, the creation of 
a forest service in the Department of Agriculture, and several other 
proposals. There was no mention of tariff revision.\26\ Tariff policies, 
would, however, remain an issue between the two leaders throughout 
Roosevelt's tenure as President.

\25\ Ibid., pp. 207-209; and Gwinn, Uncle Joe Cannon, pp. 91-92.

\26\ See Theodore Roosevelt, ``Fourth Annual Message to the Senate and 
House of Representatives,'' Dec. 6, 1904, in James D. Richardson, comp., 
A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 20 vols. 
(New York: Bureau of National Literature, 1897-1911), vol. XIV, pp. 

  The collaboration between the Speaker and the President produced 
success for the President's legislative program, ``. . . modified in 
practical ways by individuals and committees of the House and Senate . . 
.'' \27\ During the 58th and 59th Congresses (1903-1907), Congress 
enacted changes to the railroad rates, the creation of the Bureau of 
Corporations in the newly established Department of Commerce and Labor, 
meat inspection laws, and other measures. The success of Roosevelt's 
legislative program was strongly determined by his ongoing consultation 
and cordial relations with Speaker Cannon.

\27\ Cannon, The Memoirs, p. 130.

  Of course, some difficulties did develop during this period, due to 
political differences between the two men. The establishment of a forest 
service within the Department of Agriculture and the creation of 
national forests in the southern Appalachians and the White Mountains of 
New Hampshire were initiatives that caused personal tension between a 
conservationist President and a Speaker who, while Appropriations 
Committee chairman, would consider ``not one cent for scenery.'' \28\ 
Personal and institutional tensions between the leaders and branches 
were also exacerbated during frequent considerations of tariff policy 
throughout Roosevelt's time as President.

\28\ Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (New York: Harcourt Brace, 
1947), pp. 203-212, 242-243; quote found on p. 243.

  On balance, the working relation between the two leaders appears 
productive. The wear and tear of conflict and compromise, however, may 
have contributed to a serious rift between the two men regarding the 
Secret Service. By statute, the agency's role was to detect the 
counterfeiting of currency. Since the assassination of President William 
McKinley in 1901, the Secret Service had also unofficially assumed 
responsibility for Presidential protection. For several years the agency 
had exceeded its statutory mandate by spending some of its 
appropriation, which was intended to fund anticounterfeiting laws, on 
Presidential security and investigations.
  In 1908, the House Committee on Appropriations amended the Sundry 
Civil Appropriation bill to institute restrictions on employment in the 
Secret Service as a way to curb its activities. The measure was 
subsequently passed by both Chambers and signed into law by Roosevelt. 
Later that year, the chief of the Secret Service requested that all 
limitations on the $125,000 appropriation provided to the agency be 
lifted to allow him and the Secretary of the Treasury to allocate funds 
as they saw fit. The House Committee on Appropriations declined to 
remove the limitation.\29\

\29\ Rager, The Fall of the House of Cannon, pp. 47-48.

  President Roosevelt's response to the committee's action was to appeal 
directly to Speaker Cannon. In another personal message arguing that the 
provisions regarding the employment of Secret Service agents would 
``work very great damage to the government in its endeavor to prevent 
and punish crime,'' \30\ Roosevelt suggested that only criminals need 
fear the proposed changes. Before Speaker Cannon could solicit the 
thoughts of House Members, or respond to Roosevelt's personal message, 
the President's annual message arrived on Capitol Hill. In a departure 
from previous practice, Speaker Cannon reported that he had neither been 
consulted, nor seen a draft of the document before the message was 
officially presented. Cannon described himself ``as much surprised as 
any one when it was found that this Message contained an assault upon 
Congress, and especially upon the House of Representatives,'' due to the 
limitations on the activities of the Secret Service.\31\

\30\ Busbey, Uncle Joe Cannon, p. 231.

\31\ Ibid., pp. 231-232.

  The President's message included a passage referring to the issue of 
the limitations imposed on the Secret Service. Regarding that matter, 
Roosevelt wrote, in part:

  Last year an amendment was incorporated in the measure providing for 
the Secret Service, which provided that there be no detail from the 
Secret Service and no transfer therefrom. It is not too much to say that 
this amendment has been of benefit only, and could be of benefit only, 
to the criminal classes . . . The chief argument in favor of the 
provision was that the Congressmen did not themselves wish to be 
investigated by Secret Service men. Very little of such investigation 
has been done in the past; but it is true that the work of the Secret 
Service agents was partially responsible for the indictment and 
conviction of a Senator and Congressman for land frauds in Oregon. I do 
not believe that it is in the public interest to protect criminally 
[sic] in any branch of the public service, and exactly as we have again 
and again during the past seven years prosecuted and convicted such 
criminals who were in the executive branch of the Government, so in my 
belief we should be given ample means to prosecute them if found in the 
legislative branch. But if this is not considered desirable a special 
exception could be made in the law prohibiting the use of the Secret 
Service force in investigating Members of the Congress.\32\

\32\ Theodore Roosevelt, ``Eighth Annual Message to the Senate and House 
of Representatives,'' Dec. 8, 1908, in Messages and Papers of the 
Presidents, vol. XVI, pp. 7198-7240; quote found on pp. 7225-7226.

  The House responded to this message with what Speaker Cannon described 
as indignation. On December 9, 1908, Representative James Breck Perkins, 
a friend of Roosevelt's and fellow Republican from New York, introduced 
H. Res. 451 (60th Congress) to authorize the Speaker to appoint a 
special committee to consider what action the Chamber should take in 
response to Roosevelt's message. In introducing the measure, 
Representative Perkins said ``to the Congress is granted great power. 
And upon it are imposed great responsibilities. We can not neglect our 
duties nor shirk our responsibilities. The dignity of that body . . . 
should be properly maintained. The statements made by the President of 
the United States can not be lightly disregarded . . .'' \33\

\33\ Representative James Breck Perkins, ``Question of Privilege,'' 
remarks in the House, Congressional Record, vol. 43, Dec. 11, 1908, p. 

  Cannon supported the special committee to appease House Members who 
wished to immediately introduce a measure to censure the President. 
After a week of deliberation, the committee, on December 17, was 
prepared to report a measure to the House when it convened at noon. As 
Speaker Cannon was about to assume the chair and call the House to 
order, he received word from the President that he was to come to the 
White House for a consultation with the President. Upon being told that 
the Speaker was in the hall of the House, the President reportedly 
directed that the message be delivered to the Speaker personally, and 
that the consultation be held before the House considered the report of 
the special committee. Speaker Cannon indicated that:

   . . . when the Secretary to the Speaker brought the message to the 
Chair, Mr. Perkins was on his feet demanding recognition to present his 
report . . . I held the gavel in the air for a moment as my secretary 
delivered the President's telephone message, which was probably the only 
one of its kind ever sent by the President to the Speaker of the House. 
I was indignant, but the business in hand saved me from making any 
comment. I simply brought down the gavel and recognized Mr. Perkins. 
Then I told my secretary to telephone the President's secretary just 
what had occurred and to say that the Speaker would be pleased to call 
upon the President as soon as the report of the committee was disposed 

\34\ Busbey, Uncle Joe Cannon, pp. 235-236.

  The special committee unanimously reported a resolution that the 
President be requested to provide any evidence upon which he based his 
claims, including: (1) that Members of Congress did not wish to be 
investigated by the Secret Service; (2) any evidence connecting any 
Member of the current Congress to criminal activity; and (3) whether the 
President had referred any Member to the courts for trial or reported 
any illicit behavior by Members to the House of Representatives.\35\

\35\ Representative James Breck Perkins, ``The Secret Service--
President's Annual Message,'' remarks in the House, Congressional 
Record, vol. 43, Dec. 17, 1908, p. 373.

  The resolution was adopted by the House on December 17, 1908, and 
forwarded to the President. On January 4, 1909, the President responded 
with a special message, the contents of which Cannon described as ``more 
offensive than the one to which the House had taken exception.'' \36\ 
Roosevelt's message included references to a newspaper article written 
by a reporter who was currently serving as Speaker Cannon's personal 
secretary. Again, the reaction of the House was to interpret the 
President's response as an attack on a coequal branch of government. In 
addition, some Members considered the inclusion of work done by the 
Speaker's secretary before he was employed by the government as a veiled 
broadside at the Speaker himself. In due course, the newspaper article 
was referred to the special committee established to respond to the 
first report. After three days of deliberation, the committee reported 
back, recommending that the House table the message from the President. 
After extensive debate, the House voted 212 to 36 to accept the 
committee's tabling proposal, and the President's message received no 
further consideration by the House.\37\

\36\ Busbey, Uncle Joe Cannon, p. 239.

\37\ ``Annual Message of the President--Secret Service,'' Congressional 
Record, vol. 43, Jan. 8, 1909, pp. 645-684. See also Rager, ``The Fall 
of the House of Cannon,'' pp. 47-49.

  Tabling an item in the House constitutes the immediate, final, and 
adverse disposition of a matter under consideration. At the time of the 
controversy between Roosevelt and the House, messages from the President 
and other executive branch communications were usually received by the 
House, and referred to the appropriate committee for consideration. As 
these communications were suggestive, and did not compel Congress to 
take specific action, the committee referral signified the effective end 
of congressional consideration. When the House went to the effort of 
introducing, debating, and voting on a motion to table the President's 
message, it signaled its symbolic refusal to accept the message. This 
was and is a rare occurrence. Before Roosevelt's Secret Service 
controversy, the House had not taken steps to refuse a Presidential 
message since the administration of President Andrew Jackson, more than 
70 years earlier. A few weeks later, Roosevelt's term ended. Cannon 
continued as Speaker in the 61st Congress, and proceeded to forge a 
relationship with the new President, William Howard Taft.

   Cooperation Between Leaders: Sam Rayburn and Franklin D. Roosevelt

  When Representative Sam Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker on 
September 16, 1940, following the death of Speaker William B. Bankhead, 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt [FDR] was completing his second term as 
President. Like Theodore Roosevelt and Joseph Cannon, Rayburn and FDR 
had previous interactions, although Rayburn had come to view FDR more 
positively than Cannon saw Theodore Roosevelt. During FDR's first term, 
Rayburn had been chairman of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign 
Commerce. Many of FDR's New Deal proposals were referred to the Rayburn-
led panel, including measures which became the Securities Act of 1933; 
Home Owners Loan Act; Banking Act of 1933; National Industrial Recovery 
Act; Emergency Railroad Transportation Act of 1933; Securities Exchange 
Act of 1934; and Communications Act of 1934.\38\ Further, Rayburn, who 
was majority leader during the 75th and 76th Congresses (1937-1940), 
regularly served as Speaker pro tempore because of Bankhead's ill 
health, and worked with FDR on a number of legislative issues, including 
the President's unsuccessful effort to change the number of justices on 
the Supreme Court.

\38\ Booth Mooney, Roosevelt and Rayburn: A Political Partnership 
(Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1971), pp. 45-53.

  Despite general political agreement between the President and 
congressional leaders during FDR's terms, Rayburn and Speaker Bankhead 
were often unaware of the President's intentions regarding policy and 
legislative proposals. Legislative initiatives, such as FDR's proposals 
to enlarge the Supreme Court, and the contents of the President's 1937 
annual message to Congress, were unknown to the House leaders until they 
were delivered to the Chamber.\39\ Often, Speaker Bankhead would be 
embarrassed when he made a statement to the media, only to find that the 
President had already issued a message contradicting the Speaker. In one 
instance when this occurred, Rayburn told Jimmy Roosevelt, the 
President's son and liaison to Congress, to ``tell your father if I'm 
ever Speaker this kind of thing won't happen to me more than once.'' 
\40\ Rayburn reportedly believed that FDR would have more success with 
his legislative initiatives if communications were better between the 
White House and Capitol Hill. To address this problem, Rayburn set out 
to establish regular meetings between FDR and congressional leaders. He 
told Tommy Corcoran, a lobbyist with access to the White House that:

\39\ ``Basic Law Change Gains in Congress,'' New York Times, Jan. 8, 
1937, p. 1. For a discussion of Speaker Bankhead's interactions with 
FDR, see William J. Heacock, ``William B. Bankhead and the New Deal,'' 
Journal of Southern History, vol. 21, Aug. 1956, pp. 354-358.

\40\ Alfred Steinberg, Sam Rayburn: A Biography (New York: Hawthorn 
Books, 1975), p. 140.

the President ought to be having a meeting every week with his House and 
Senate Leaders so we could tell him what we're planning, and he could 
tell us his plans. It could eliminate a lot of confusion. See what you 
could do--but don't you dare let him know I suggested it 'cause he 
thinks he ``borned'' every idea that ever was.\41\

\41\ D.B. Hardeman and Donald C. Bacon, Rayburn: A Biography (Austin, 
TX: Texas Monthly Press, 1987), p. 227.

  At a subsequent White House meeting, FDR informed Rayburn that he had 
been thinking that ``maybe it would be a good idea if I had a meeting 
with Bill . . .'' (Speaker Bankhead), Rayburn, Vice President John Nance 
Garner,\42\ and Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky, who was majority 
leader of the Senate. Roosevelt proposed that the leaders could meet 
about once a week to discuss and coordinate planning. Rayburn replied 
that the suggestion was one of the smartest ideas that he had ever 

\42\ John Nance Garner of Texas, had been Speaker of the House in the 
72d Congress (1931-1933).

\43\ Hardeman and Bacon, Rayburn, p. 227.

  By the time Rayburn became Speaker, he and FDR had worked out their 
communications issues and were beginning to turn to legislative and 
policy matters. With war raging in Europe and Japan engaging in 
aggression in Asia, both leaders recognized that defense and 
preparedness issues would consume much of their time in the coming 
months. Rayburn believed strongly that the American system of government 
was best served by a strong, independent legislature. While the new 
Speaker liked and admired FDR, he was determined not to yield to the 
executive branch any constitutional prerogatives granted to the 
Congress.\44\ At the same time, Rayburn understood that, in times of 
national jeopardy, the country needed to be led by the President. ``When 
the nation is in danger,'' Rayburn believed, ``you have to follow your 
leader. The man in the White House is the only leader this nation has . 
. . Although we may disagree with him, we must follow our president in 
times of peril . . .'' \45\

\44\ Ibid., p. 245.

\45\ Ibid., p. 101.

  Global events soon gave Rayburn the opportunity to act on his beliefs. 
On January 6, 1941, Speaker Rayburn's 59th birthday, President Roosevelt 
addressed a joint session of Congress to deliver his Annual Message to 
the Congress. Around the world, the forces of Germany, Italy, and Japan 
had engaged in invasions and other aggression. In Europe, France had 
fallen in 1940, and as Roosevelt stood before Congress, the United 
Kingdom was enduring regular attacks by the Nazi air force. In the 
course of the speech, FDR warned of the possibility that the United 
States could find itself involved in the conflict.\46\ The President 
specifically requested authority from Congress to produce munitions and 
other war supplies that could be provided to countries that were at war 
with Germany, Italy and Japan, and whose defense was considered vital to 
the defense of the United States. This aid was to be directed primarily 
to the United Kingdom, but other countries would also be eligible for 
assistance. As these countries were unlikely to be able to pay for these 
materials, FDR also proposed funding their acquisition of ships, planes, 
tanks, and guns, through a program that would become popularly known as 

\46\ Franklin D. Roosevelt, ``The Annual Message to the Congress, Jan. 
6, 1941,'' in Samuel I. Rosenman, comp., The Public Papers and Addresses 
of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 13 vols. (New York: Macmillan Company, 1938-
1950), vol. 3, pp. 663-678.

\47\ Steinberg, Sam Rayburn, pp. 166-167.

  On January 10, 1941, the President sent to Congress the first of 
several measures designed to move the Nation forward in war preparation. 
At Rayburn's behest, Representative John McCormack of Massachusetts, who 
served as majority leader,\48\ introduced the lend-lease measure, which 
was deliberately assigned the number H.R. 1776. The measure provided the 
President with the authority to transfer title to, exchange, lease, 
lend, or otherwise dispose of any defense article to any government 
whose defense the President deemed vital to the defense of the United 
States. The proposal called for $7 billion to fund the provision of war 
materials to nations that could not afford to pay. Under the proposal, 
the President would be the sole authority to decide which countries 
would receive military assistance.

\48\ McCormack later served as Speaker during the 87th through 91st 
Congresses (1961-1970).

  Opponents of lend-lease expressed concern that the measure, if passed, 
would invest too much power in the President. These concerns focused on 
what appeared to some to be a Presidential request for a ``blank check'' 
which could be used with little congressional oversight. Others saw the 
measure as an outright abandonment by Congress of its power to declare 
war, allowing it to be transferred to the President so he could draw the 
United States into the global conflict.\49\ For his part, Speaker 
Rayburn publicly supported granting the President wide latitude in 
carrying out the lend-lease program. ``If we are to aid the 
democracies,'' Rayburn said, ``Congress must enact a law giving the 
power to somebody to administer the law. There could be no one man in 
this country as well qualified to administer it as the President.'' 
Rayburn also discussed the possible consequence of failing to provide 
the President with the proposed authority, saying ``either we give the 
President the flexible powers necessary to help Britain, or by our 
inaction, we strengthen Hitler's power to conquer Britain and attack 
us.'' \50\

\49\ Mooney, Roosevelt and Rayburn, pp. 159-162.

\50\ Hardeman and Bacon, Rayburn, pp. 257-258.

  Privately, however, Rayburn communicated to the President the concerns 
of Members, and informed the President that the bill was dead without 
changes. At FDR's urging, Rayburn led efforts in the House to craft a 
compromise that addressed the concerns of the House. Working with the 
President, Representative Sol Bloom, chairman of the Committee on 
Foreign Affairs, and other committee members, Rayburn was able to 
negotiate amendments that preserved the basic outline of FDR's proposal 
while addressing the concerns that the measure would represent too large 
a grant of power to the executive. These included a prohibition on 
American shipping convoys transporting war materials, a requirement that 
the President report three times a month to Congress regarding the 
program's progress, and a 2-year limit on the program. In addition, the 
$7 billion the President requested would have to go through scrutiny of 
the regular appropriations process.
  On the floor, where debate began February 3, Speaker Rayburn, Majority 
Leader McCormack, and Chairman Bloom managed the progress of the lend-
lease measure through 5 days of debate. Several Members who were opposed 
to the proposal offered amendments designed to scuttle the legislation. 
Many of these were declared nongermane by the chair. The House rejected 
19 amendments before passing H.R. 1776 by a vote of 260 to 165.\51\ One 
month later, the Senate passed lend-lease with minor amendments. Rayburn 
convened the House soon thereafter, and, with little debate, the Chamber 
accepted the changes. An hour after the House gave final approval, the 
measure was signed into law by President Roosevelt.\52\

\51\ Transcripts of the consideration of H.R. 1776 in the House can be 
found in the Congressional Record, vol. 87, Feb. 3-7, 1941, pp. 484-519, 
522-568, 573-678, 710-749, and 753-815.

\52\ 55 Stat. 31.

  Throughout 1941, Congress worked with the President to develop the 
Nation's capacity to defend itself and its allies. In one significant 
action, Congress approved an administration-backed measure to 
reauthorize the draft, and extend the time of enlistment for draftee 
soldiers under the Selective Service Act from 1 year to 30 months. 
Rayburn was opposed to the extension when it was first proposed. After 
meeting with the President, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and Army 
Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, the Speaker reluctantly 
conceded the necessity of the extension, and agreed to advance the 
measure in the House. The Speaker faced a House that was very reluctant 
to extend the mandatory period of military enlistment. In addition to 
the efforts of the whip organization run by Representative Pat Boland, 
Rayburn personally approached several Members for their support, telling 
them to ``do this for me. I won't forget it.'' \53\ One Member 
reportedly said that the Speaker was quite successful at the effort: 
``Mr. Sam is terribly convincing . . . There he stands his left hand on 
your right shoulder, holding your coat button, looking at you out of 
honest eyes that reflect the sincerest emotion.'' Rayburn's effort 
proved indispensable as the House ultimately approved the draft 
extension by 1 vote, 203 to 202.\54\

\53\ Alvin M. Josephy, On the Hill: A History of the American Congress 
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), p. 334.

\54\ Steinberg, Sam Rayburn, p. 170.

  As 1941, and the 1st session of the 77th Congress drew to a close, 
Rayburn and FDR collaborated once again on a national defense measure. 
For several months, German submarines and surface ships had been 
attacking American merchant ships. The Roosevelt administration wanted 
to repeal sections of the Neutrality Resolution, passed by the 74th 
Congress in 1935,\55\ to permit the arming of American merchant ships, 
and to authorize those ships to enter combat zones and the ports of 
belligerent nations. In response, the House passed a bill that 
authorized the arming of merchant ships, but did not permit their entry 
into belligerent ports. In the Senate, amendments were added that 
allowed the President to send the ships to any port in the world. The 
Senate-passed version of the bill also authorized the President to order 
merchant ships to defend themselves against attack. The Senate version 
was returned to the House for review.

\55\ 50 Stat. 1081.

  Following a day of debate on the Senate amendments, Rayburn's vote 
count showed that the merchant ships bill would be defeated. Rayburn and 
Majority Leader McCormack met with FDR to work out a strategy to win 
House acceptance of the Senate amendments. The three leaders agreed that 
the Speaker would provide a written letter summarizing the concerns of 
House Members, and that the President would provide a written reply.
  When the House resumed the debate on the Senate amendments. Rayburn 
monitored the debate throughout the day. With 11 minutes of debate on 
the Senate amendments remaining, Rayburn descended from the chair to 
speak from the well of the House regarding his views and the position of 
President Roosevelt:

  A great deal has been said about the position of the President. Does 
the President want these amendments? Does he advocate them? . . . Last 
evening late the gentleman from Massachusetts \56\ and I addressed the 
following letter to the President of the United States:

\56\ Majority Leader McCormack.

  A number of Members have asked us what effect the failure on the part 
of the House to take favorable action on the Senate amendments would 
have on our position in foreign countries, and especially in Germany. 
Some of these Members have stated that they hoped you would make a 
direct expression on this matter.\57\

\57\ Representative Sam Rayburn, ``Amending the Neutrality Act,'' 
remarks in the House, Congressional Record, vol. 87, Nov. 13, 1941, pp. 

  Rayburn then read to the House the letter from FDR that he and 
Majority Leader McCormack had worked out with the President the previous 
evening. The President's letter said in part:

  I had no thought of expressing to the House my views to the effect, in 
foreign countries, and especially in Germany, of favorable or 
unfavorable action on the Senate amendments.

  But in view of your letter, I am replying as simply and clearly as I 
know how . . .

  . . . In regard to the repeal of sections 2 and 3 of the Neutrality 
Act, I need only call your attention to three elements. The first 
concerns the continued sinking of American-flag ships in many parts of 
the ocean. The second relates to great operational advantages in making 
continuous voyages to any belligerent port in any part of the world; 
thus, in all probability increasing the total percentage of goods--
foodstuffs and munitions--actually delivered to those nations fighting 
Hitlerism. The third is the decision by the Congress and the Executive 
that this Nation, for its own present and future defense, must 
strengthen the supply line to all of those who are keeping Hitlerism far 
from the Americas.

  With all of this in mind, the world is obviously watching the course 
of this legislation.

  In the British Empire, in China, and in Russia--all of whom are 
fighting a defensive war against invasion--the effect of the failure of 
the Congress to repeal sections 2 and 3 of the Neutrality Act would 
definitely be discouraging. I am confident that it would not destroy 
their defense or morale, though it would weaken their position from the 
point of view of food and munitions.

  Failure to repeal these sections would, of course, cause rejoicing in 
the Axis nations. Failure would bolster aggressive steps and intentions 
in Germany, and in the other well-known aggressor nations under the 
leadership of Hitler.

  Our own position in the struggle against aggression would definitely 
be weakened, not only in Europe and in Asia, but also among our sister 
republics in the Americas. Foreign nations, friends and enemies, would 
misinterpret our own mind and purpose . . . \58\

\58\ Ibid., pp. 8890-8891.

  Reading the President's letter consumed approximately 10 minutes. In 
the remaining moments of debate, Rayburn endorsed the President's 
approach, and added his own thoughts, saying:

  In the moment, let me say this: Let us not cast a vote today that will 
mean rejoicing in Germany, or Italy, or Japan. Let me say that with all 
my heart, this moment, that the failure to enact these amendments will 
have repercussions too frightful to contemplate, and might break up the 
most serious conferences that have ever been held at this moment between 
the representatives of Japan and the representatives of the United 
States of America. Let us show the world by our vote, at least a 
majority vote, where we stand. Let me appeal to you, whether you love 
one man or hate another, to stand up today for civilization as it is 
typified in the United States of America.\59\

\59\ Ibid.

  As time for debate expired, the roll call began. In the end, the House 
accepted the Senate amendments by a vote of 212 to 194.
  On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States forces in Pearl 
Harbor, HI. Soon after the attack, Speaker Rayburn returned to 
Washington from a personal trip to Richmond, VA, and received a message 
that the President wanted to meet congressional leaders that evening. At 
the conclusion of the meeting, Rayburn was asked by a reporter if 
Congress would support a war declaration. Rayburn replied, ``I think 
that is one thing on which there would be unity.'' \60\ The next day, 
the President addressed a joint session of Congress to request a 
declaration of war against Japan. Following the joint session, each 
Chamber convened and passed a joint resolution declaring a state of war 
between the United States and Japan. The President signed the measure 
into law that afternoon.

\60\ C.P. Russell, ``Congress Decided,'' New York Times, Dec. 8, 1941, 
p. 1.

  In his first full year as Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn worked 
closely with President Franklin Roosevelt to roll back a neutral, 
isolationist policy, prepare the Nation for war, and assist nations 
already fighting the Axis. When the United States entered the conflict, 
the Speaker and the President successfully urged the Nation to produce 
the materials essential to combat the enemy, maintain morale on the home 
front, and bring ``the war to its earliest possible conclusion.'' \61\ 
The first few months after the United States joined the conflict were 
marked by extensive gains for the Axis powers. In the Pacific theater, 
Japanese forces captured Guam, Wake Island, parts of the Aleutian 
Islands and the Philippines. In the Atlantic, the naval forces of 
Germany, which declared war on the United States 4 days after the Pearl 
Harbor attack, launched effective submarine attacks on American merchant 
ships. Roosevelt's 1942 Annual Message to the Congress formed the basis 
of the American response. In the address, the President called for 
increased production of airplanes, tanks, and merchant shipping.\62\ 
When the goals of Roosevelt's program were questioned in the media and 
by the public, Speaker Rayburn embarked on a series of speaking 
engagements around the country to defend the proposed goals.\63\

\61\ Sam Rayburn interview with Walter C. Hornaday, Jan. 7, 1944, in 
H.G. Delaney and Edward Hake Phillips, eds., Speak Mister Speaker 
(Bonham, TX: Sam Rayburn Foundation, 1978), p. 104.

\62\ Roosevelt, ``The Annual Message to the Congress, Jan. 6, 1941,'' in 
The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, pp. 32-42.

\63\ Steinberg, Sam Rayburn, pp. 210-211.

  In the House, Rayburn guided numerous measures to passage that 
strengthened the American war effort. Measures passed included changes 
in tax law that allowed war industries to write off capital expenditures 
at an accelerated rate; the establishment and funding of several new 
executive branch agencies that controlled the distribution of raw 
materials, civilian goods production and rationing, prices, war 
propaganda, and economic warfare overseas; amendment of military draft 
laws to conscript 18-year-old men; and bills that prevented labor 
actions in war industries. Less publicly, Rayburn, Majority Leader 
McCormack, and Minority Leader Joseph Martin of Massachusetts were 
briefed by Secretary Stimson, General Marshall, and Dr. Vannevar Bush 
about a secret plan to construct an atomic bomb. Initial efforts to fund 
the program had come through illegal transfers of military 
appropriations. When the administration officials tried to tell the 
congressional leaders about the project, Rayburn cut them off, saying 
``I don't want to know . . . because if I don't know a secret I can't 
let it leak out.'' A few weeks later, Rayburn persuaded Representative 
Clarence Cannon, who was chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, to 
quietly insert an appropriation of $1.6 billion for the Manhattan 

\64\ Ibid., pp. 211-213; quote, p. 212. See also Mooney, Roosevelt and 
Rayburn, pp. 177-182.

  Summarizing congressional action and cooperation with the President in 
a speech in Texas in November 1942, Rayburn mentioned several other 
actions Congress had taken in support of the President's war program, 

   . . . let no one tell you that the seventy-seventh Congress and the 
executive branch of the government have not worked together. The 
President asked for 185,000 airplanes. Congress provided the authority 
and the appropriation. He asked for billions to build war plants. He got 
them. He asked for amendments to the Neutrality Act for . . . lend-lease 
shipments across the sea. He got them. He asked for authority to take 
over Axis ships. He got it. The executive recommended a wage and price 
bill and requested legislation by October 1. He got it on October 2 . . 
. We have made every attempt to weld our peacetime government machinery 
into a compact fist of steel.\65\

\65\ Sam Rayburn speech to the Texas Forum of the Air, Nov. 1, 1942, in 
Delaney and Phillips, eds., Speak Mister Speaker, p. 93.

  While the war effort advanced, Rayburn's efforts appear to have come 
at a political price. Despite broad public support for the war, some of 
the new policies adopted by Congress, such as the extension of the 
Selective Service Act, and rationing measures, were not popular. Some 
have argued that this public displeasure led to a loss of more than 50 
Democratic seats in the House in the 1942 elections. This left the 
Chamber with 222 Democrats and 209 Republicans, at the beginning of the 
78th Congress in 1943.\66\ During the first few weeks of the new 
session, several administration-backed measures were defeated by the 
House, despite Rayburn's efforts. Over the course of the session, a 
sense of national purpose appears to have overcome partisan and 
factional preferences in the House, and the President's proposals 
received more favorable consideration. Beyond the Chamber, Rayburn 
continued to tour the country as a spokesman and partner of the 
President. The Speaker began to carry out symbolic duties as well, 
including dedicating hospitals, war production facilities, and receiving 
honorary degrees.\67\ Despite the occasional, temporary setbacks in 
Congress, FDR held Rayburn in high esteem. On the occasion of Rayburn's 
second anniversary as Speaker, Roosevelt acknowledged the milestone in a 
letter to Rayburn that said ``the speakership has assumed a special 
importance because of the gravity of issues with which you have 
continually had to deal . . . the country has need of you.'' \68\

\66\ House membership and party division is based on results reported by 
the Clerk of the House, based on immediate results of elections held in 
November 1942. Four vacancies were reported. U.S. Congress, Joint 
Committee on Printing, 2003-2004 Official Congressional Directory, 108th 
Congress, 108th Cong., 1st sess., S. Pub. 108-18 (Washington, GPO, 
2003), p. 547.

\67\ C. Dwight Dorough, Mr. Sam (New York: Random House, 1962), pp. 348-

\68\ Franklin Delano Roosevelt letter to Sam Rayburn, Sept. 16, 1942, in 
Delaney and Phillips, eds., Speak Mister Speaker, p. 91.

  Rayburn and Roosevelt would continue to work together on war measures 
and other issues until Roosevelt died in 1945. On the afternoon of April 
12, 1945, Speaker Rayburn adjourned the House at 5 o'clock and was in 
his private Capitol office known as the ``Board of Education,'' where he 
often met with Members to discuss matters before the House. On this day, 
Vice President Harry S Truman was due at the close of the day's Senate 
session. Before the Vice President arrived, Rayburn received a call from 
the White House; Truman was to call as soon as he arrived. When Truman 
reached the Speaker's office, he called the White House and was told to 
come to the executive mansion. After he left, a special radio bulletin 
informed Rayburn and the Nation that President Roosevelt had died at 
Warm Springs, GA, earlier that afternoon. Later that evening, Speaker 
Rayburn went to the White House to see Truman take the oath of office as 
  The only Member of Congress to hold the speakership in four different 
decades, Rayburn served with, not under, Presidents Franklin D. 
Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy. 
Some time after World War II ended, Rayburn reflected on his 
collaboration with Roosevelt:

  I would go to the White House with the other congressional leaders, 
and we would talk things out frankly and openly. Sometimes we agreed, 
and sometimes we disagreed, but in the end we would find more points of 
agreement than disagreement. And we would get things done. We had to get 
things done.\69\

\69\ Mooney, Roosevelt and Rayburn, p. 164, italics in original.

       Conclusion: Toward a More Complete Understanding of Leaders

  Although his focus was World War II and Franklin Roosevelt, Rayburn's 
observation suggests a starting point for efforts to understand the 
nature of the relationship between the Speaker and the President over 
the last century. The cases of Theodore Roosevelt and Joe Cannon, and 
Franklin Roosevelt and Sam Rayburn, strongly suggest that in war, peace, 
periods of prosperity, or periods of national emergency, things still 
need to get done, and that the Speaker and President are integral actors 
in achieving those ends. The institutional environment established by 
separation of powers brings together two leaders who have different, and 
sometimes contentious, governing responsibilities. To some extent, the 
relationship between the two sets of leaders bridged that gulf and 
facilitated legislative activity. In both cases, Cannon and Rayburn 
served as an intermediary between the House and the President, who is 
always on the outside of the Legislature. Each Speaker reflected the 
mood and will of the House, and provided advice to the Presidents on the 
basis of those observations. When both Presidents followed the advice, 
whether Cannon's suggestion to avoid the tariff issue in 1907, or 
Rayburn's suggestion to revise a lend-lease program that was sure to be 
defeated without changes in 1941, both Presidents enjoyed the benefits 
of reduced conflict and the advancement of their legislative programs. 
When the two Chief Executives ignored advice, or failed to seek 
consultation with the Speakers, as with Theodore Roosevelt's contretemps 
over the Secret Service, or the setbacks FDR's New Deal programs 
suffered as a result of his failed court reorganization, each suffered 
political damage.
  Both cases strongly suggest that to govern, Speakers and Presidents 
must surmount the challenges of divergent constitutional 
responsibilities, political contexts, and personal chemistry. Without 
recourse to similar studies of the relationship between other Speakers 
and Presidents over the last century, however, it is unclear whether 
these findings are generally applicable to the other 15 Speakers and 16 
Presidents that have served during this time. The volatility of 
political contexts and interpersonal relationships shown in the Cannon 
and Rayburn eras, as well as Speaker O'Neill's observation that there is 
much still to be learned about the Office and men who have been Speaker, 
strongly suggests that further inquiry into the relationship between 
other Speakers and Presidents would make a valuable contribution to 
understanding American Government.
                                Chapter 7

             Speakers, Presidents, and National Emergencies

                            Harold C. Relyea

               Specialist in American National Government

                     Congressional Research Service

  At various times in American history, emergencies have arisen--posing, 
in varying degrees of severity, the loss of life, property, or public 
order--and threatened the well-being of the Nation. The Constitution 
created a government of limited powers, and emergency powers, as such, 
failed to attract much attention during the Philadelphia Convention of 
1787 which created the charter for the new government. It may be argued, 
however, that the granting of emergency powers to Congress is implicit 
in its Article I, section 8 authority to ``provide for the common 
Defence and general Welfare''; the commerce clause; its war, Armed 
Forces, and militia powers; and the ``necessary and proper'' clause 
empowering it to make such laws as are required to fulfill the 
executions of ``the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by 
this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any 
Department or Officer thereof.'' The President was authorized to call 
special sessions of Congress, perhaps doing so in order that 
arrangements for responding to an emergency might be legislated for 
executive implementation.
  A national emergency may be said to be gravely threatening to the 
country, and recognizable in its most extreme form as auguring the 
demise of the nation. The more extreme the threat, likely more 
widespread will be the consensus that a national emergency exists. At 
times, however, the term has been artfully used as political rhetoric to 
rally public support, or employed nebulously. According to a dictionary 
definition, an emergency is ``an unforeseen combination of circumstances 
or the resulting state that calls for immediate action.'' \1\ In the 
midst of the Great Depression, a 1934 majority opinion of the Supreme 
Court characterized an emergency in terms of urgency and relative 
infrequency of occurrence, as well as equivalence to a public calamity 
resulting from fire, flood, or like disaster not reasonably subject to 
anticipation.\2\ Constitutional law scholar Edward S. Corwin once 
explained emergency conditions as being those ``which have not attained 
enough of stability or recurrency to admit of their being dealt with 
according to rule.'' \3\ During Senate committee hearings on national 
emergency powers in 1973, a political scientist described an emergency, 
saying: ``It denotes the existence of conditions of varying nature, 
intensity and duration, which are perceived to threaten life or well-
being beyond tolerable limits.'' \4\ The term, he explained, ``connotes 
the existence of conditions suddenly intensifying the degree of existing 
danger to life or well-being beyond that which is accepted as normal.'' 

\1\ Henry Bosley Woolf, ed., Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary 
(Springfield, MA: G&C Merriam, 1974), p. 372.

\2\ Home Building and Loan Association v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 440 

\3\ Edward S. Corwin, The President: Office and Powers, 1787-1957, 4th 
rev. ed. (New York: New York University Press, 1957), p. 3.

\4\ U.S. Senate, Special Committee on the Termination of the National 
Emergency, National Emergency, hearing, 93d Cong., 1st sess., Apr. 11, 
1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973), p. 277.

\5\ Ibid., p. 279.

  In responding to an emergency situation, Presidents have exercised 
such powers as were available by explicit grant or interpretive 
implication--so-called implied powers--or otherwise acted of necessity, 
trusting to a subsequent acceptance of their actions by Congress, the 
courts, and the citizenry. They have, as well, sought statutory bestowal 
of new powers. In such circumstances, the Speakers of the House of 
Representatives have played varied roles. Presidents also have 
occasionally taken an emergency action which they assumed to be 
constitutionally permissible. Thus, in the American governmental 
experience, the exercise of emergency powers has been somewhat dependent 
upon the Chief Executive's view of the office. The authority of a 
President in this regard, however, is not determined by the incumbent 
alone. Other institutions and their leaders, such as the Speaker of the 
House, may have a tempering effect on, or constitute either an obstacle 
to, or a sustainer of, the President's actions in response to an 
  In the account that follows, four of the most challenging national 
emergencies in the American governmental experience--the Civil War, 
World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II--are reviewed with a 
view to the role of the Speaker during these crises. That role has been 
a varied one due to several factors, not the least of which are 
personality, political partisanship, ideology, institutional stature, 
and statesmanship.

                              The Civil War

  For several decades after the inauguration of the Federal Government 
under the Constitution, controversy and conflict over slavery had 
steadily grown in the Nation until it erupted in regional rebellion and 
insurrection in late 1860. News of the election of President Abraham 
Lincoln, who was known to be hostile to slavery, prompted a public 
convention in South Carolina. Convening a few days before Christmas, the 
assembled voted unanimously to dissolve the union between South Carolina 
and the other States. During the next 2 months, seven States of the 
Lower South followed South Carolina in secession. Simultaneously, State 
troops began seizing Federal arsenals and forts located within the 
secessionist territory. In his fourth and final annual message to 
Congress on December 3, 1860, President James Buchanan conceded that, 
due to the resignation of Federal judicial officials throughout South 
Carolina, ``the whole machinery of the Federal Government necessary for 
the distribution of remedial justice among the people has been 
demolished.'' He contended, however, that ``the Executive has no 
authority to decide what shall be the relations between the Federal 
Government and South Carolina.'' Any attempt in this regard, he felt, 
would ``be a naked act of usurpation.'' Consequently, Buchanan indicated 
that it was his ``duty to submit to Congress the whole question in all 
its bearings,'' observing that ``the emergency may soon arise when you 
may be called upon to decide the momentous question whether you possess 
the power by force of arms to compel a State to remain in the Union.'' 
Having ``arrived at the conclusion that no such power has been delegated 
to Congress or to any other department of the Federal Government,'' he 
proposed that Congress should call a constitutional convention, or ask 
the States to call one, for purposes of adopting a constitutional 
amendment recognizing the right of property in slaves in the States 
where slavery existed or might thereafter occur.\6\

\6\ James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers 
of the Presidents, vol. 7 (New York: Bureau of National Literature, 
1897), pp. 3165-3167.

  By the time of Lincoln's inauguration (March 4, 1861), the Confederate 
provisional government had been established (February 4); Jefferson 
Davis had been elected (February 9) and installed as the President of 
the Confederacy (February 18); an army had been assembled by the 
secessionist States; Federal troops, who had been withdrawn to Fort 
Sumter in Charleston Harbor, were becoming desperate for relief and 
resupply; and the 36th Congress had adjourned (March 3). A dividing 
nation was poised to witness ``the high-water mark of the exercise of 
executive power in the United States.'' Indeed, in retrospect, it has 
been observed: ``No one can ever know just what Lincoln conceived to be 
limits of his powers.'' \7\

\7\ Wilfred E. Binkley, President and Congress (New York: Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1947), p. 126.

  A month after his inauguration, the new President notified South 
Carolina authorities that an expedition was en route solely to provision 
the Fort Sumter troops. The receipt of this message prompted a demand 
that the garrison's commander immediately surrender. The commander 
demurred, and, on April 12, the fort and its inhabitants, over the next 
34 hours, were subjected to continuous, intense fire from shore 
batteries until they finally surrendered. The attack galvanized the 
North for a defense of the Union. Lincoln, however, did not immediately 
call Congress into special session. Instead, for reasons not altogether 
clear, he not only delayed convening Congress, but also, with broad 
support in the North, engaged in a series of actions which intruded upon 
the constitutional authority of the legislature. These included ordering 
75,000 of ``the militia of the several States of the Union'' into 
Federal service ``to cause the laws to be duly executed,'' and calling 
Congress into special session on July 4 ``to consider and determine, 
such measures, as, in their wisdom, the public safety, and interest may 
seem to demand;'' blockading the ports of the secessionist States; 
adding 19 vessels to the Navy ``for purposes of public defense;'' 
extending the initial blockade to the ports of Virginia and North 
Carolina; and enlarging the Armed Forces with 22,714 men for the regular 
Army, 18,000 personnel for the Navy, and 42,032 volunteers for 3-year 
terms of service.\8\

\8\ Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the 
Presidents, vol. 7, pp. 3214-3217.

  In his July 4 special session message to Congress, Lincoln indicated 
that his actions expanding the Armed Forces, ``whether strictly legal or 
not, were ventured upon under what appeared to be a popular and a public 
necessity, trusting then, as now, that Congress would readily ratify 
them. It is believed,'' he continued, ``that nothing has been done 
beyond the constitutional competency of Congress.'' \9\ Indeed, in an 
act of August 6, 1861, Lincoln's ``acts, proclamations, and orders'' 
concerning the Army, Navy, militia, and volunteers from the States were 
``approved and in all respects legalized and made valid, to the same 
intent and with the same effect as if they had been issued and done 
under the previous express authority and direction of the Congress.'' 
\10\ During the next 4 years of civil war, Congress would continue to be 
largely supportive of Lincoln's prosecution of the insurrection.

\9\ Ibid., p. 3225.

\10\ 12 Stat. 326.

  The House Environment.--The 37th Congress, which Lincoln convened in 
July, initially met for about a month. Members returned in December for 
a second session, which consumed about 200 days of the next year, and a 
third session, beginning in December 1862 and ending in early March 
1863. The President had party majorities in both Chambers: about two-
thirds of the Senate was Republican and the House counted 106 
Republicans, 42 Democrats, and 28 Unionists. The 1862 elections shifted 
the House balance to 102 Republicans and 75 Democrats. Despite the 
numerical dominance of the Republicans, however, ``no one individual or 
faction was able to establish firm control of the congressional agendas 
during the Civil War.'' \11\

\11\ Allan G. Bogue, The Congressman's Civil War (Cambridge, UK: 
Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. xviii.

  Investigation and oversight activities by congressional committees 
increased during the Civil War, ``when 15 of 35 select committees were 
primarily concerned with wrongdoing or improper performance of duties,'' 
and similar probes were being conducted by at least six standing 
committees. The war affected these inquiries because it added urgency to 
proper administrative performance and prompted enlarged Federal 
expenditures. There were, as well, committee examinations of matters 
more closely connected with the war.\12\

\12\ Ibid., pp. 60-88.

  Perhaps the best known of the wartime oversight panels was the Joint 
Committee on the Conduct of the War. While some of its tactics--secret 
testimony, leaks to the press, disallowance of an opportunity to 
confront or cross examine accusers--and its bias against West Point 
officers remain unacceptable, its probes of the Fort Pillow massacre, in 
which Union black troops were murdered and not allowed to surrender, and 
the poor condition of Union soldiers returned from Confederate prisons 
``were among its more positive achievements.'' Indeed, ``a number of its 
investigations exposed corruption, financial mismanagement, and crimes 
against humanity,'' with the result that the panel ``deserves praise not 
only for exposing these abuses but also for using such disclosures to 
invigorate northern public opinion and bolster the resolve to continue 
the war. Had the committee's work always been modeled on these 
investigations,'' it has been rightly concluded, ``there would be little 
debate about its positive, albeit minor, contribution to the Union war 
effort.'' \13\

\13\ Bruce Tap, Over Lincoln's Shoulder: The Committee on the Conduct of 
the War (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1998), pp. 253, 255.

  By one estimate, the ``most influential member of the House of 
Representatives during this period was Thaddeus Stevens of 
Pennsylvania,'' whose ``influence over the House exceeded that of its 
speakers.'' \14\ An attorney and former member of the Pennsylvania 
legislature, he had initially been elected to the House of 
Representatives as a Whig in 1848. He was subsequently elected to the 
House as a Republican in 1858, and soon became the leader of the 
radicals who strongly opposed slavery. He chaired the Ways and Means 
Committee during the 37th and 38th Congresses, and died in office in the 
summer of 1868.

\14\ Ronald M. Peters, Jr., The American Speakership: The Office in 
Historical Perspective (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University 
Press, 1990), p. 54; cf. Hubert Bruce Fuller, The Speakers of the House 
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1909), pp. 152-157.

  Speaker Galusha A. Grow.--Born and reared in Pennsylvania, Grow had 
been a practicing attorney before he was first elected to the House of 
Representatives as a Democrat in 1850. He was returned to the 33d and 
34th Congresses as a Democrat, but slavery and related issues prompted 
him to change party affiliation and he was elected to the 35th, 36th, 
and 37th Congresses as a Republican. A redrawn district contributed to 
his electoral defeat in 1862, and he would not return to the House until 
1883 when he was elected to fill a seat left vacant by the death of the 
incumbent. Grow's oratorical and leadership qualities contributed to his 
initially being nominated by former Speaker Nathaniel Banks for the 
speakership in 1857. Although Grow had the support of nearly all 
Republicans, he lost to Democrat James L. Orr of South Carolina.\15\ He 
was nominated again for the speakership in 1860, but the more moderate 
William Pennington of New Jersey was the choice.\16\ A long-time 
champion of the Homestead Act, Grow was among the leaders who, having 
brought the legislation to final passage, saw their efforts defeated by 
President Buchanan's veto. The bill enacted by the 37th Congress, 
however, was successfully carried into law in May 1862, a few months 
before Grow would be defeated for reelection.\17\

\15\ Robert D. Illisevich, Galusha A. Grow: The People's Candidate 
(Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988), p. 156.

\16\ Ibid., pp. 182-183.

\17\ Ibid., pp. 173-191, 196-197; 12 Stat. 392.

  With the convening of the 37th Congress, Grow had the support of 
Thaddeus Stevens, who nominated him for the speakership. Less radical 
contenders were Schuyler Colfax of Indiana and Frank Blair of Missouri. 
The situation was urgent, and ``the Republicans had agreed not to 
tolerate any protracted conflict over the speakership.'' On the first 
ballot, Grow had 71 votes, 9 short of victory. ``Blair, in second place 
with forty, withdrew and urged his supporters to switch their votes; 
twenty-eight did,'' and ``Grow won with ninety-nine votes.'' \18\

\18\ Ibid., pp. 202-203.

  Stevens was instrumental in Grow's capture of the speakership. The two 
men had become acquainted some time ago in their native Pennsylvania. 
They had come to hold similarly strong views opposing slavery and 
supporting the preservation of the Union, and both were resistant to the 
efforts of Simon Cameron and Andrew Curtin to control the State 
Republican Party. Stevens had nominated Grow for the speakership in 
1860, and Grow had recommended Stevens to President-elect Lincoln for a 
Cabinet position.\19\

\19\ Ibid., pp. 194-195.

  ``When it came time to make committee assignments, Grow did what was 
expected of him--he appointed radicals and friends.'' He also annoyed 
some Cabinet secretaries for not consulting with them on appointments 
that affected their departments.\20\

\20\ Ibid., p. 203.

  Described as ``firm, calm, and precise in construing the rules'' of 
the House, Grow deferred to Stevens in the party caucus and ``Stevens 
was the domineering personality on the floor,'' but he would 
occasionally challenge his friend regarding procedure.\21\

\21\ Ibid., pp. 204-205.

  One good example occurred on July 18, 1861, when Henry May of Maryland 
asked for the floor to defend himself against charges that he had had 
``criminal intercourse'' with the rebels in Richmond. John Hutchins of 
Ohio objected to the way in which May attacked the military authorities 
in Baltimore. Stevens said May was out of order, but Grow ruled that May 
was entitled to the floor. Stevens put his protest into the form of a 
motion, which the chair refused to entertain. When Stevens appealed the 
decision, Grow insisted he had no control over the train of remarks May 
might pursue and, therefore, could not rule him out of order. The chair 
was overruled, but May was permitted to continue.\22\

\22\ Ibid., p. 205.

  Perhaps surprising to some, Grow, the radical, got along ``admirably'' 
with the President, and reportedly ``believed Lincoln to be almost 
infallible, a leader who never rubbed Congress the wrong way and who 
handled men masterfully.'' \23\ Grow, Stevens, and a caucus of a dozen 
other radicals, accepted Lincoln's moderate approach to emancipation, 
supporting the President's proposal for Federal assistance to any State 
that adopted a plan of gradual emancipation, as well as legislation for 
immediate emancipation in the District of Columbia.\24\

\23\ Ibid.

\24\ Ibid., p. 207.

  It was Grow's fortune to be Speaker during one of the nation's 
critical moments. The Thirty-seventh Congress faced an awesome task. It 
had to raise, organize, and equip military forces, and to find the means 
to support them and the government as well. Yet its performance record 
was impressive. Before it adjourned in early August, the special session 
had passed more than sixty bills, and productivity was to continue into 
the second and third sessions. Fortunately, the Republicans enjoyed a 
comfortable majority and were able when necessary to ride roughshod over 
the Democratic opposition. A call for the question often ended the 
Democrat's efforts at prolonged debate.\25\

\25\ Ibid., p. 204.

  Speaker Schuyler Colfax.--Grow's electoral defeat in 1862 assured that 
the 38th Congress would have a new Speaker of the House.\26\ The choice 
was Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, a newspaperman who had unsuccessfully 
sought election to the 32d Congress as a Whig. Two years later, running 
as a Republican, he was sent to the House and remained there for the 
next 5 Congresses (1855-1864). He and Grow ``became friends and close 
allies in their struggle for a free Kansas and a homestead bill.'' \27\ 
However, his relationship with Stevens, according to one assessment, was 
somewhat different than that of his predecessor.

\26\ Concerning Colfax's preparations and support in this regard, see 
Willard H. Smith, Schuyler Colfax: The Changing Fortunes of a Political 
Idol (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1952), pp. 182-184, 196.

\27\ Illisevich, Galusha A. Grow: The People's Candidate, p. 112.

  Colfax possessed neither will nor mind of his own. Thaddeus Stevens 
furnished him with these mental attributes. The fact that Stevens 
permitted him to remain as speaker for six years furnishes the best 
index of his character. He was the alter ego.\28\

\28\ Fuller, The Speakers of the House, p. 158; cf. Smith, Schuyler 
Colfax, pp. 189-190.

  By contrast, an 1868 campaign pamphlet by an anonymous author offered 
the following description of Colfax's speakership.

  Every session of Congress has been marked by great bitterness of 
feeling, and yet so just has been his ruling, so courteous and kind his 
manner to foes as well as friends, that he has been popular with both 
parties. Probably not one man in a thousand could have passed through 
the trying scenes which he has, with the same equanimity and approbation 
of both friends and foes.\29\

\29\ Anonymous, The Life and Times of Hon. Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of 
the United States House of Representatives and Republican Candidates for 
the Vice-Presidency (New York: E.B. Treat, 1868), p. 12; the author is 
identified on the title page as ``a distinguished historian.''

  Indeed, Colfax was well regarded as a presiding officer, and his 
party, still under the iron rule of Stevens in the caucus, enjoyed 
dominant majorities during his tenure as Speaker.\30\ As a 
Representative, however, he appears to have left no individual mark upon 
the statute books. Moreover, ``Colfax's influence on the development or 
passage of specific legislation is unclear.'' \31\ In a biography 
published shortly after the former Speaker's death, Ovando J. Hollister 
summed up his late brother-in-law's role in the House.

\30\ Bogue, The Congressman's Civil War, p. 116.

\31\ Ibid., p. 118.

  The two successive re-elections of Speaker Colfax attest the great 
satisfaction he gave in this high office. These were as eventful times 
as ever chanced in the annals of men, and the actors played their part 
in a manly way, worthy of their place in the line of generations that 
has won from the oppressor, maintained, and transmitted liberty. Neither 
before nor since have there been greater Houses than those which called 
Schuyler Colfax to be their presiding officer; at no time in our history 
were the people and their Congresses in closer sympathy, and this was 
due in part to the Speaker's faculty of wise and successful political 

\32\ O.J. Hollister, Life of Schuyler Colfax (New York: Funk and 
Wagnalls, 1886), p. 216.

  That political management included consultations with Cabinet members 
concerning their preferences for Representatives assigned to the House 
committees with which they had to deal. It also involved scheming and 
connivance that, according to an entry in the diary of Secretary of the 
Navy Gideon Wells, resulted in Lincoln considering him to be ``a little 
intriguer,--plausible, aspiring beyond his capacity, and not 
trustworthy.'' The diary of John Hay, Lincoln's secretary, reflected 
similar White House doubts about Colfax.\33\ Lincoln had preferred 
others for the speakership, but when it fell to Colfax, the President 
met with him, only to receive ``what was not exactly a pledge of support 
but a promise of neutrality in the upcoming fights in Congress between 
Radicals and Conservatives.'' \34\ It was, seemingly, less than he had 
enjoyed with Grow.

\33\ Bogue, The Congressman's Civil War, pp. 116-117; another historian 
has written that the exact relationship between Colfax and Lincoln ``is 
difficult to ascertain,'' but expressed doubt that it was ``the intimate 
relationship'' portrayed by Hollister; see Smith, Schuyler Colfax, pp. 

\34\ David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), 
p. 469.

                               World War I

  When war swept over Europe during the latter months of 1914, the 
United States, in terms of emergency conditions confronting the Nation, 
was unaffected by the conflict. Initially pursuing a policy of 
neutrality, President Woodrow Wilson, in September 1915, reluctantly 
agreed to allow American bankers to make general loans to the 
belligerent nations. These loans, foreign bond purchases, and foreign 
trade tended to favor Great Britain and France. Earlier, in February 
1915, Germany had proclaimed the waters around the British Isles a war 
zone which neutral ships might enter at their own risk. In May, the 
British transatlantic steamer Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine 
with the loss of 1,198 lives, including 128 Americans. Disclosures of 
German espionage and sabotage in the United States later in the year, 
unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany as of February 1917, and March 
revelations of German intrigue to form an alliance with Mexico 
contributed to the President calling a special session of Congress on 
April 2, when he asked for a declaration of war, which was given final 
approval 4 days later.\35\

\35\ 40 Stat. 1.

  As Wilson led the Nation into war, the ``preponderance of his crisis 
authority,'' it has been noted, ``was delegated to him by statutes of 
Congress.'' Indeed, ``Wilson chose to demand express legislative 
authority for almost every unusual step he felt impelled to take.'' By 
comparison, the source of Lincoln's power ``was the Constitution, and he 
operated in spite of Congress,'' while the ``basis of Wilson's power was 
a group of statutes, and he cooperated with Congress.\36\

\36\ Clinton Rossiter, Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis Government in 
the Modern Democracies (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 
1948), p. 242.

  The President also exercised certain discretion over and above that 
provided by statute. For example, he armed American merchantmen in 
February 1917; created a propaganda and censorship entity in April 
1917--the Committee on Public Information--which had no statutory 
authority for its limitations on the First Amendment; and he created 
various emergency agencies under the broad authority of the Council of 
National Defense, which had been statutorily mandated in 1916.\37\

\37\ Concerning the Committee on Public Information, see Stephen L. 
Vaughn, Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the 
Committee on Public Information (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North 
Carolina Press, 1980); concerning the Council of National Defense, its 
mandate may be found at 39 Stat. 649-650 and its operations are 
discussed in Grosvenor B. Clarkson, Industrial America in the World War: 
The Strategy Behind the Line 1917-1918 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1923); 
see also, generally, William Franklin Willoughby, Government 
Organization in War Time and After (New York: D. Appleton, 1919).

  ``Among the important statutory delegations to the President,'' it has 
been recounted, ``were acts empowering him to take over and operate the 
railroads and water systems, to regulate and commandeer all ship-
building facilities in the United States, to regulate and prohibit 
exports'' and ``to raise an army by conscription.'' Others authorized 
him ``to allocate priorities in transportation, to regulate the conduct 
of resident enemy aliens, to take over and operate the telegraph and 
telephone systems, to redistribute functions among the executive 
agencies of the federal government, to control the foreign language 
press, and to censor all communications to and from foreign countries.'' 

\38\ Rossiter, Constitutional Dictatorship, p. 243.

  In November 1918, Republican majorities were elected to both Houses of 
Congress, and an armistice was signed in Europe, bringing a cessation of 
warfare. As peace negotiations, with Wilson participating, began in 
Paris in mid-January, many temporary wartime authorities began to 
expire; most of the remaining war statutes and agencies were terminated 
by an act of March 3, 1921.\39\

\39\ 41 Stat. 1359.

  The House Environment.--The Presidential contest of 1912 had resulted 
in the election of Woodrow Wilson, the first Democrat to occupy the 
White House since 1897. His party held a substantial margin of seats 
(291 to 127) in the House at the start of his administration, which 
quickly dwindled during the next two Congresses and disappeared in 1918; 
an initial seven-seat margin in the Senate grew slightly during the next 
two Congresses before the opposition gained a two-seat majority in 1918.
  The 63d Congress convened about a month after Wilson's March 4, 1913, 
inauguration. On April 8, a day after their assembly, the two Houses in 
joint session were personally addressed by Wilson--``the first President 
to do so since Jefferson stopped the practice in 1801. He wanted the 
members of Congress to see that he was a real person,'' one commentator 
has observed, ``and a partner in their work, he told them, not `a mere 
department of the Government hailing Congress from some isolated island 
of jealous power'.'' \40\ It was the beginning of a new relationship 
between the first and second branches.

\40\ Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., On the Hill: A History of the American 
Congress (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), p. 293.

  During the new President's first years in office, relations between 
the White House and Congress underwent a drastic change. [Theodore] 
Roosevelt had fought Congress and had often gone over its head to the 
people to get it to act, but he was never able to establish the primacy 
of his office over the conservative leadership in the legislature. 
[William Howard] Taft had shied away from even contesting for dominance. 
But it was now a different Congress. . . . [Wilson's] Democratic 
majorities were well organized and led by, and to a large extent 
composed of, men who shared the chief executive's goals, were as eager 
as he to compile a record of party achievement, and were willing to 
follow or cooperate with him. It was a situation made to order for a man 
of Wilson's commitment and temperament. . . . Believing strongly in 
party government and in his responsibility to be the nation's political 
head, Wilson gave forceful leadership to his party in Congress from his 
first day in office, telling it what he wanted it to do, introducing and 
sponsoring legislation, working closely with the Democratic leaders, 
committee heads, and individual members to achieve his programs, and in 
the process strengthening and broadening the powers and prestige of the 

\41\ Ibid.

  The outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914 found the President and 
Congress initially in agreement on a policy of strict neutrality. German 
submarine warfare soon created a division of opinion between the 
neutralists and peace forces, on the one hand, and those demanding the 
defense of American's rights on the high seas, on the other. This 
division led to conflicts in 1915 and 1916 between the White House and 
congressional Democrats. In the first instance, Wilson's refusal to 
issue a warning to Americans against traveling on armed merchantmen not 
only prompted protests from Democrats in both houses, but also 
resolutions mandating such a warning and an entree for congressional 
formulation of foreign policy. Vigorous efforts by the President, key 
Republicans in Congress, and the press, got the resolutions tabled. The 
second controversy arose over Presidentially proposed military 
preparedness legislation, which included a new national volunteer 
``Continental Army'' program. The measure was held captive in committee 
by a peace bloc led by the House Majority Leader, Claude Kitchen. Wilson 
had to compromise: the resulting legislation provided for an immediate 
expansion of the regular Army, enlargement of the National Guard, and 
integration of the Guard into Army organization and command.\42\

\42\ Ibid., pp. 297-298.

  Although Wilson emphasized a neutrality theme in his 1916 campaign for 
reelection, he was almost defeated, edging by his opponent with a 
plurality of 23 electoral votes, and saw his party strength in the House 
reduced to a majority of only a few seats. At the end of January 1917, 
Germany stunned Wilson with the announcement that it was resuming 
unrestricted submarine warfare. Shortly thereafter, an American ship was 
torpedoed and sunk without warning, prompting the President to break 
diplomatic relations with Germany. Near the end of February, Wilson 
asked Congress for authority to arm merchant ships and to use other 
``instrumentalities or methods'' to protect American shipping. The 
House, on March 1, overwhelmingly gave approval to the first part of the 
President's request; adamant noninterventionists in the Senate launched 
a filibuster against the authorization. Subsequently, Wilson went ahead 
with the ship armament on his own authority and called for a special 
session of Congress on April 16, then changed the convening to April 2. 
That evening he asked the 65th Congress for a declaration of war against 
Germany. This was accomplished 4 days later.\43\

\43\ Ibid., pp. 299-301.

  There followed the passage of a stream of war legislation, beginning 
with the appropriations of $4 billion for the army and navy and 
authorization for a Liberty Loan of bonds to be sold to the public (four 
Liberty Loan drives during the war and a Victory Loan in 1919 raised a 
total of $20.5 billion). A Selective Service Bill providing for 
universal conscription caused bitter controversy in the House, where 
Speaker [Champ] Clark left his chair to oppose the measure. Its 
constitutionality--sending drafted men outside the United States--seemed 
open to question, but it was enacted on May 18, 1917.\44\

\44\ Ibid., p. 301.

  The stream of war legislation continued, including ``several acts, 
urged by the administration and supported by the fervent patriotism and 
anti-German feeling of a great majority of the American people and their 
representatives in Congress, [which] broke sharply with the relatively 
benign atmosphere of political tolerance and freedom of dissent of the 
progressive period. Paralleling . . . emergency controls on business, 
they seriously abridged civil liberties and traditional American 
rights.'' \45\ Meanwhile, in Europe, the arrival of American troops was 
decisive in stemming German offensives and launching fierce 
counterdrives that moved Allied forces toward the German border.

\45\ Ibid., p. 302.

  As the conflict in Europe neared an end, Wilson's uncompromising 
determination to handle foreign affairs himself and impose on the world 
his idealistic vision of an enduring peace headed him on a collision 
course with the Senate. On January 8, 1918, he delivered a stirring 
address to the Sixty-fifth Congress, boldly outlining fourteen points as 
a basis for a moral peace. Among them were proposals for open diplomacy, 
freedom of the seas, the reduction of armaments, and ``a general 
association of nations.'' Liberals in America and the Allied countries 
supported the Fourteen Points with enthusiasm, but many of the 
Republicans and militants in Congress were cynical, fearing that Wilson 
would not be stern enough with Germany and showing signs of resentment 
at his aggrandizement of the role of sole arbiter of post-war 

\46\ Ibid., p. 303.

  The conflict continued and became more acute, with many Republicans 
separating from Wilson and demanding that he call for Germany's 
unconditional surrender. Wilson responded, in part, by appealing to the 
voting public to give him stronger party control of each House in the 
November 5, 1918, congressional elections. Republicans viewed the 
President's tactic as an attack on their patriotism and a violation of 
the wartime truce on politics. When the returns came in, ``the 
Republicans won the House by fifty seats and the Senate by two seats, 
[and] Wilson not only lost his hold over Congress and his goal of a 
strong national unity behind him, but because of his ill-advised appeal 
seemed even to have suffered a repudiation of his peace policies on the 
eve of the war's end.'' \47\ That end came on November 11 with a general 
armistice in Europe. Wilson's efforts to negotiate a peace ultimately 
came to an end in fall 1919 when the Senate, divided into three 
irreconcilable camps, failed to approve any form of the Versailles 
Treaty.\48\ During a campaign to rally public support for the treaty, 
Wilson collapsed in Pueblo, CO, on September 25, and, after having 
returned to Washington, suffered a debilitating stroke on October 2. The 
declaration of war against Germany (and Austria-Hungary) was 
subsequently terminated by joint resolution on July 2, 1921.\49\

\47\ Ibid., pp. 303-304.

\48\ The controversy actually continued into the early months of 1920, 
but without any resolve of the impasse realized earlier.

\49\ 42 Stat. 105.

  Speaker Champ Clark.--When President Wilson addressed a joint session 
of the 63d Congress on April 8, 1913, James Beauchamp ``Champ'' Clark of 
Missouri was beginning his second speakership. A State legislator, he 
had been unsuccessful in his bid for the Democratic nomination for a 
House seat in 1890. Two years later, he won his party's nomination and 
was elected as a Representative, but lost the reelection contest to a 
Republican in 1894. Regaining his House seat in 1896, he served 
continuously thereafter until 1920. In the House, he was a floor leader 
(1907-1911) before being elected to the speakership in April 1911. 
During the 60th Congress, he had led the Democrats who joined a group of 
Republican insurgents in a revolt against the dictatorial Speaker Joseph 
G. Cannon and his power over the Committee on Rules. While the House had 
voted in 1910 to remove the Speaker from serving on the committee, 
public dissatisfaction with the Republican majority in that Chamber 
resulted in a Democratic landslide in the elections of that year and the 
basis for Clark subsequently becoming Speaker.
  As a consequence of his distaste for Cannon's dictatorial ways, Clark 
changed the Speaker's role in House affairs, leaving the business of 
floor scheduling and party caucus management to the floor leader, Oscar 
Underwood of Alabama. Under this arrangement, the floor leader and 
caucus guided the party program. Clark, as Speaker, was an impartial 
presiding officer of the House, but he could, and often did, temporarily 
step down from his position to participate actively in legislative 
debate.\50\ As a result of his role in the overthrow of Cannon and his 
frequent discussion of legislative issues, Clark became the leading 
Democratic candidate for the Presidency in 1912. At the party nominating 
convention, Clark ran ahead of both William Jennings Bryan, his 
political adversary, and Woodrow Wilson, but was ultimately defeated 
when Bryan threw his support to Wilson.

\50\ Peters, The American Speakership, pp. 92-94.

  During Clark's speakership, the Democrats exercised party governance 
through a binding caucus, with Underwood using individual pieces of 
legislation for such approval.\51\

\51\ Ibid., p. 93.

  The caucus rules established a simple majority as a quorum for 
business, with two-thirds of those members present and voting required 
to approve a motion to bind. It was not always necessary for the 
leadership to control two-thirds of the rank and file, but rather some 
lesser number, ranging down to two-thirds of a quorum. Of 291 Democratic 
members of the Sixty-third Congress, for example, the number required to 
bind might have been as few as ninety-eight.\52\

\52\ Ibid., p. 94.

  The Speaker could speak in the caucus or offer a motion to bind it, 
but he could not control it. Similarly, he could influence the members 
of the Committee on Rules regarding the floor agenda and debate, but he 
could not control them. As a consequence, compared with the Democratic 
floor leader and committee chairmen, it is understandable that the 
Speaker might not have been viewed as the best agent for realizing the 
President's legislative agenda. By one estimate, the ``operation of the 
caucus system used by the Democrats attained its maximum effectiveness 
during Wilson's first administration, especially during the Sixty-third 
Congress while Underwood served as majority leader.'' Why? 
``Progressivism had its moment in the sun, and the Democrats were able 
to govern the nation just so long as the policy consensus kept the party 
united behind the administration's program.'' \53\ War in Europe 
militated against that consensus, as did Underwood's departure for the 
Senate in 1915, resulting in the succession of Claude Kitchen of North 
Carolina as floor leader.

\53\ Ibid., p. 97.

  Basic differences in political philosophy between Wilson and Kitchen 
led to a clash of political wills, and they did not work as closely 
together as had Wilson and Underwood. Because of this, Wilson began 
using congressman John Nance Garner of Texas as his intermediary to the 
House. The Democrats had suffered heavy losses in the election of 1914, 
bringing their congressional majority down from 290 seats to 231. With 
the growing involvement of the United States in European affairs, 
Americans became increasingly concerned about the possibility of 
engagement in a general European war. Running on the theme that he had 
``kept us out of war,'' Wilson was reelected in 1916, but the party 
retained control of the House of Representatives by the narrowest of 
margins, electing an identical 215 members to the Republicans, and 
relying on the support of five independent members to retain 
organizational control. Wilson did not keep America out of the war, and 
during his second administration he won congressional support for his 
war program only at the cost of bitter divisions within the party, which 
proved fatal in the 1918 congressional elections, when the Republicans 
swept the Congress.\54\

\54\ Ibid., pp. 97-98.

  Clark admired Kitchen, calling him ``one of the most brilliant 
debaters this generation has known--fluent, intelligent, witty, 
sarcastic, affable, courageous, and at times eloquent.'' \55\ He 
occasionally voted, as a matter of conscience, contrary to the position 
of the President. Joining Kitchen, Clark opposed the administration's 
highly controversial military conscription plan, and denounced the 
proposal on the House floor in April 1917.\56\ He also proved to be a 
valuable ally of the White House, however, such as when he frustrated 
efforts in September 1917 to establish a powerful joint congressional 
committee to oversee the conduct of the American war effort, and 
privately assured Wilson that he would render any service to defeat 
legislation creating, separate from the traditional Cabinet, a war 
cabinet or council, composed of three distinguished citizens, ``with 
almost unlimited jurisdiction over plans and policies, to insure the 
most vigorous prosecution of the war.'' \57\ When the President lent 
support in July 1918 to a local effort to deny Representative George 
Huddleston of Alabama the Democratic nomination for reelection to the 
House, Clark and Kitchen provided their colleague with letters praising 
his patriotic service in Congress. Their intervention was denounced 
locally as the interference of a pair of ``super pacifists,'' but 
Huddleston captured the nomination and was returned to the House.\58\ In 
the closing pages of his autobiography, Clark characterized Wilson as 
``a great President,'' but, perhaps best explained his own role when 
refuting a newspaper allegation that he had campaigned for Wilson in 
1912 in the hope of obtaining a Cabinet position. ``The man who wrote 
that,'' counseled Clark, ``did not have sense enough to know that the 
Speakership of the House of Representatives is a much bigger place than 
is any Cabinet position, and he was not well enough acquainted with me 
to know that I would not accept all ten Cabinet portfolios rolled into 
one, for I would not be a clerk for any man.'' \59\

\55\ Champ Clark, My Quarter Century of American Politics, vol. 2 (New 
York: Harper and Brothers, 1920), p. 339.

\56\ Seward W. Livermore, Politics Is Adjourned: Woodrow Wilson and the 
War Congress, 1916-1918 (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 
1966), p. 17.

\57\ Ibid., pp. 57, 89.

\58\ Ibid., pp. 163-164.

\59\ Clark, My Quarter Century of American Politics, vol. 2, pp. 442-

                          The Great Depression

  In his final State of the Union Message of December 4, 1928, President 
Calvin Coolidge advised the legislators that no previous Congress ``has 
met a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present 
time,'' and concluded that the ``country can regard the present with 
satisfaction and anticipate the future with optimism.'' \60\ One year 
later, the dreamworld envisioned by Coolidge vanished and was replaced 
by a nightmare. On October 24, 1929, an over-speculated stock market 
suddenly experienced a deluge of selling, which sent prices plummeting. 
Panic ensued. In the howling melee of the stock exchange, brokers fought 
to sell before it was too late. Rapidly, it became too late.

\60\ Fred L. Israel, ed., The State of the Union Messages of the 
Presidents, 1790-1966, vol. 3 (New York: Chelsea House-Robert Hector, 
1966), p. 2727.

  Economic crisis was not new to America. The country had experienced 
financial setbacks of nationwide proportion in 1857, 1875, and 1893. 
History, however, was an enemy in the devising of strategy to deal with 
the depression of 1929. The periods of economic difficulty of the past 
were but a tumble when compared with the plunge of the Great Depression. 
This was the first problem experienced by those attempting to rectify 
the plight of the country: they did not recognize the ramifications of 
the situation or the extent of damage done and continuing to be done. 
Perhaps, too, the administrative machinery was not available or 
sufficiently developed to halt the downward economic spiral. It may have 
been that the President's philosophy of government was inadequate for 
meeting the exigency. In the face of all efforts to halt its progress, 
the cancer of economic disaster continued to devastate American society 
  The depression demoralized the Nation: it destroyed individual dignity 
and self-respect, shattered family structure, and begged actions which 
civilized society had almost forgotten. In brief, it created a most 
desperate situation, ripe for exploitation by zealots, fanatics, or 
demagogs. It also created an emergency which, unlike exigencies of the 
past, dealt a kind of violence to the public that neither Armed Forces 
nor military weaponry could repel. It was a new type of crisis leading 
to a broad extension of executive power.
  In 1932, a malcontent and despairing electorate voted against 
President Herbert C. Hoover, Coolidge's successor. Although a dedicated 
public servant of demonstrated ability, he was replaced with Franklin D. 
Roosevelt, who came to the Presidency from the governorship of New York, 
and had previously served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the 
Wilson administration. In his inaugural address, the new President was 
eloquent, telling the American people ``that the only thing we have to 
fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which 
paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.'' More 
important, on the exertion of leadership during crisis, he expressed 
hope that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority 
would prove to be adequate ``to meet the unprecedented tasks before 
us,'' but acknowledged that ``temporary departure from that normal 
balance'' might be necessary. ``I am prepared under my constitutional 
duty to recommend the measures that a stricken Nation in the midst of a 
stricken world may require,'' he said, but, in the event Congress did 
not cooperate ``and in the event that the national emergency is still 
critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then 
confront me''--using ``broad Executive power to wage a war against the 
emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in 
fact invaded by a foreign foe.'' \61\

\61\ Samuel I. Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers and Addresses of 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vol. 2: The Year of Crisis, 1933 (New York: 
Random House, 1938), pp. 11, 15.

  The House Environment.--The day after his inauguration, Roosevelt 
called for a special session of Congress. When the proclamation for the 
gathering was issued, no purpose for the March 9 assembly was indicated. 
Nonetheless, the President's party enjoyed overwhelming majorities in 
the House (310 to 117) and Senate (60 to 35). Roosevelt had arrived in 
Washington with drafts of two proclamations, one calling for the special 
session of Congress and the other declaring a so-called ``bank 
holiday,'' which would temporarily close the Nation's banks and restrict 
the export of gold by invoking provisions of the Trading With the Enemy 
Act.\62\ The bank holiday proclamation was issued on March 6. Between 
the evening of the inauguration and the opening of Congress, Roosevelt's 
lieutenants, aided by Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury, Ogden Mills, 
drafted an emergency banking bill. When Congress convened, the House had 
no copies of the measure and had to rely upon the Speaker reading from a 
draft text. After 38 minutes of debate, the House passed the bill. That 
evening, the Senate followed suit. The President then issued a second 
proclamation, pursuant to the new banking law, continuing the bank 
holiday and the terms and provisions of the March 6 proclamation.\63\

\62\ Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming of the New Deal (Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin, 1959), p. 4.

\63\ 48 Stat. 1; Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers and Addresses of 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vol. 2: The Year of Crisis, 1933, pp. 24-26, 48.

  Thereafter ensued the famous ``hundred days'' when the 73d Congress 
enacted a series of 15 major relief and recovery laws, many of which 
provided specific emergency powers to the President or broad general 
authority to address the crisis gripping the Nation. The Emergency 
Banking Relief Act, for example, authorized the President to declare a 
condition of national emergency and, ``under such rules and regulations 
as he may prescribe,'' regulate banking and related financial matters 
affecting the economy. This statute also continued the Chief Executive's 
authority to suspend the operations of member banks of the Federal 
Reserve System.\64\ Under the authority of the Civilian Conservation 
Corps Reforestation Relief Act, the President was granted broad power 
``to provide for employing citizens of the United States who are 
unemployed, in the construction, maintenance, and carrying on of works 
of a public nature in connection with the forestation of lands belonging 
to the United States or to the several States.'' Authority also was 
granted to house, care for, and compensate such individuals as might be 
recruited to carry out programs established pursuant to the act.\65\ 
After declaring the existence of a national emergency with regard to 
unemployment and the disorganization of industry, the National 
Industrial Recovery Act authorized the President to establish an 
industrial code system and a public works program to facilitate the 
restoration of prosperity. The President could establish administrative 
agencies to carry out the provisions of the act, and might delegate the 
functions and powers vested in him by the statute to those entities.\66\ 
Additional recovery programs would be given approval by the 74th 

\64\ 48 Stat. 1.

\65\ 48 Stat. 22.

\66\ 48 Stat. 195.

  These federal programs served widespread, enduring, and organized 
interests in American society. The political coalition to which they 
gave rise lent definition to American political life, and the 
consequences were felt in the Congress. The tendency towards stability 
was already present, especially within the Democratic party, and the 
seniority system had entrenched the power of southern Democrats. The 
newcomers who came to town in 1933 and 1935 did not upset it; instead, 
those who stayed on enlisted themselves in its long apprenticeship. By 
cooperating with those at the top of the power structure, those at the 
bottom served their own interests and those of their constituents. This 
was a game ideally suited to the character and temperament of the 
Democratic party, a party marked by diversity and devoted to logrolling. 
From the Roosevelt administration, to the oligopoly on Capitol Hill, 
through the growing bureaucracy, to the congressional constituencies, 
everyone found something to gain.\67\

\67\ Peters, The American Speakership, pp. 106-107.

  Indeed, ``Roosevelt was careful to defer to the Democratic barons in 
the Congress on the control of federal spending,'' and harmony prevailed 
because Federal largesse was particularly sought by the southern States 
where the Great Depression had hit the hardest.\68\ ``Conservative 
southern opposition to Roosevelt remained quiescent,'' it has been 
observed, ``until the court-packing episode of 1937, which triggered the 
development of the conservative coalition in the Congress. Roosevelt's 
decision to purge the Congress of southern Democrats who had opposed his 
reelection in 1936 sealed many southerners in opposition to him.'' \69\

\68\ Ibid., p. 107.

\69\ Ibid., p. 108; in February 1937, President Roosevelt sent Congress 
a draft bill to change the composition of the Federal judiciary, and, in 
particular, to allow him to expand the membership of the Supreme Court, 
which had recently struck down New Deal recovery legislation; the 
following year, he made appeals to party faithful for the defeat of some 
southern Democrats seeking reelection to Congress.

  Apart from Congress, New Deal efforts at combating the Depression, in 
the estimate of one analyst, also resulted in a transformation of the 
Presidency as well as inter-branch relations.

  Since FDR, the public's expectations of the presidency have been 
different than they were before. The public expects leadership from the 
president, and it is the president who sets the basic elements of the 
national political agenda. But if the president can and must set the 
major items on the agenda, he cannot enact them by himself. Instead, he 
must seek to persuade the Congress to follow his leadership. This led to 
a strengthening of the link between the president and the speakership. 
On occasion speakers had been supporters of presidents, but there 
existed no norm that demanded it prior to the New Deal. Since the New 
Deal, speakers, especially Democratic speakers, have viewed it as their 
obligation to support presidents of their own party. Thus, the New Deal 
had the ironic effect of solidifying congressional power in the 
committee system, which the speaker could influence but not control, and 
of imposing on the speaker the duty of supporting a president of his own 
party. From 1932 forward, speakers would be caught in a crossfire 
between the congressional power structure and their obligation to the 
White House.\70\

\70\ Ibid., pp. 108-109.

  Speaker Henry T. Rainey.--Formerly a practicing attorney and county 
master in chancery in Illinois, Henry T. Rainey was first elected to the 
House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1902. He served in the 58th 
Congress and the 8 succeeding Congresses (1903-1921). Unsuccessful in 
his 1920 campaign, he was returned 2 years later to the 68th Congress 
and served in the next five Congresses (1923-1934) until his death in 
office. When the Democrats, after 12 years, were returned to majority 
status in the House in 1931, ``power in the party was centered in the 
Texas delegation'' with John Nance Garner, ``a leading force in the 
party since the Wilson administration,'' elected Speaker.\71\ That year, 
``the southern Democrats controlled twenty-seven of forty-seven 
chairmanships'' of the House committees.\72\ Emerging as the new floor 
leader for the Democrats was Rainey, renowned for his ``progressive 
political independence,'' according to his biographer, but a man who had 
gained the support of his more conservative colleagues through his 
reelection successes and efforts on behalf of farmers and agricultural 
relief.\73\ However, in his new position, Rainey ``was never able to win 
acceptance within the establishment'' of House southern Democrats ``and 
his relationship with Speaker Garner was strained.'' \74\

\71\ Ibid., p. 110.

\72\ Ibid., p. 109.

\73\ Robert A. Waller, Rainey of Illinois: A Political Biography, 1903-
1934 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1977), p. 159; see also 
Ibid., pp. 138-158.

\74\ Peters, The American Speakership, p. 114.

  Ironically, ``Garner's leadership of the Democratic party in the House 
brought to him great public visibility,'' as well as ``ample political 
assets to enable him to contend for the presidency in 1932.'' \75\ 
Supported by the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst, Garner won the 
California primary election and entered the Democratic National 
Convention with the solid support of the delegations from that State and 
Texas. With the convention deadlocked after three ballots, Garner threw 
his support to Roosevelt to be the party's Presidential candidate and 
was rewarded with the Vice Presidential position on the ticket. When the 
Democrats won the Presidential contest, the speakership for the 73d 
Congress became open.

\75\ Ibid., p. 113.

  Rainey had been elected his party's floor leader in 1931 ``with a 
coalition of southern and northern support,'' but ``he remained very 
much an outrider in a leadership structure that was dominated by the 
southern oligarchy.'' \76\ Several factors contributed to his election 
to succeed Garner as Speaker. In addition to Rainey, four southerners 
and a New York City Representative emerged as contenders for the 
speakership, with the result that ``the party suffered a complete 
geographic split, with candidates from each of its major regions.'' \77\ 
Within the institution of the House, Rainey was the second-longest-
serving Member, and had earned the respect of many of his Democratic 
colleagues as their floor leader and as one in that role who ``was not 
disloyal to Garner.'' Moreover, ``Rainey's election was ensured by the 
election of 129 new Democrats; of these, ninety-five were from the 
North, twelve from border states, and seventeen from the South,'' with 
Illinois, his home State, electing the most new Democratic Members--11 
in total.\78\

\76\ Ibid., p. 114.

\77\ Ibid., p. 115.

\78\ Ibid., pp. 114-115.

  These new members were politically tied to President Roosevelt's 
commitment to political action. Rainey had for several years advocated a 
diffusion of the power structure in the House through the creation of a 
party steering and policy committee similar to that employed by the 
Republicans. In 1933 he made this proposal a key element in his campaign 
platform for the speakership. The concept of a party steering committee 
had been strongly opposed by Garner, who favored the management of the 
House by the speaker and the committee chairmen. But the idea was very 
attractive to new members, who could have no hope of influence under the 
leadership of the old guard. . . . Rainey became the first speaker since 
Champ Clark to come to the office committed to reform, and like Clark he 
was committed to decentralizing reforms.\79\

\79\ Ibid., p. 115; Rainey's biographer notes that when he announced his 
intention to seek the speakership, ``Rainey indicated that he expected 
considerable support from the newly elected Democrats in the lower 
House,'' and identified other factors lending support to his bid for the 
speakership, such as being ``a rallying point for all northern Democrats 
who were tired of seeing most of the party plums go to the South,'' 
having a ``rural and small town background [which] would help balance a 
party which drew heavily from the urban areas and the Solid South,'' 
having the precedent that ``[f]our of the Democratic Speakers since the 
Forty-seventh Congress . . . elevated from the post of majority leader 
and a fifth from acting majority leader,'' and perhaps even the 
``striking personal appearance'' of the candidate; see Waller, Rainey of 
Illinois, pp. 174-175.

  However, after becoming Speaker, Rainey eventually made only slight 
changes in the committee system. ``Among forty-five standing committee 
chairmen of the House,'' by one estimate, ``there were no uncompensated 
violations of seniority.'' \80\ He would, nonetheless, carefully manage 
the House committee system in other ways, while attempting to pursue his 
reform proposals and lend support to the new President's efforts at 
achieving economic recovery.

\80\ Peters, The American Speakership, p. 116.

  Speaker Rainey's commitment to diffuse power in the House ran head-on 
into the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt and his first hundred days. 
However much the speaker and his supporters might have wanted collegial 
decision making, the country demanded immediate action that could only 
come about by firm control of the House. Rainey did appoint a steering 
and policy committee for the Democrats, and created a variety of special 
committees designed to involve members in the canvassing of opinion. But 
the real business of the House was being done at the other end of 
Pennsylvania Avenue, and Speaker Rainey's job was primarily to see to it 
that the president's program was expedited. In order to accomplish this, 
the speaker held up the appointment of most committees during the 
special session called by Roosevelt to deal with the crisis. He 
appointed a special committee to deal with the Economy Act, a budget-
cutting measure that gave broad power to the president to cut federal 
expenditures, and he used the Rules Committee to bring the New Deal 
legislation to the House under special orders that severely limited the 
capacity of the membership to amend the bills as reported by 

\81\ Ibid., p. 117.

  As Speaker, Rainey, according to his biographer, ``was in an ideal 
position to serve as middleman between executive wishes and legislative 
fulfillment.'' \82\ Prior to the convening of the 73d Congress, Rainey, 
in a January 1933 meeting with Roosevelt, had proposed a program to 
balance the budget and warned that increasing taxes ``would be inviting 
revolution.'' It was, by one estimate, ``an instance in which a 
congressional leader had prepared a complete fiscal program for the 
President-elect.'' \83\ Subsequently, authority for the President to cut 
Federal expenditures to realize a balanced budget was included in 
legislation to maintain government credit.\84\ However, it also enabled 
the President to reduce the pensions and allowances of war veterans. In 
the course of an unsuccessful attempt to bind the party on the measure 
in caucus, Rainey learned of an amendment backed by the veterans' lobby 
to prevent the President from completely discontinuing a pension or 
other allowance or reduce them by more than 25 percent. Given that 
``Democratic unity was shattered by the economy bill,'' the legislation 
was brought to the floor ``under a rule providing a two-hour limit, no 
opportunity for amendments, and one motion to recommit by anyone 
opposing the proposition.'' To avoid the veterans' lobby amendment, 
arrangements were made for another Democrat, ``an ardent veterans' 
supporter,'' to seek to be recognized in order to move to recommit the 
entire bill. Rainey, as prearranged, recognized this man and, as 
expected, his motion was defeated, but the terms of the rule had been 
satisfied on this point. When the Member with the veterans' lobby 
amendment protested, contending that he believed he had caucus agreement 
that he would have an opportunity to offer his amendment to the 
recommitted measure, ``Rainey coldly replied that he had no knowledge of 
a binding agreement.'' Moreover, he voted with those approving the bill. 
Thus, ``the Speaker used his right to recognize with decisive effect, 
and saved the administration from an embarrassing defeat during its 
first few days in office.'' \85\

\82\ Waller, Rainey of Illinois, p. 181; this biographer also 
acknowledges that ``the record upon which to construct the climax of 
Rainey's career is limited severely'' because ``Franklin Roosevelt did 
not preserve memoranda of his personal conferences and phone 
conversations'' and ``most of the key legislative transactions were 
handled in this fashion;'' Ibid., p. 181.

\83\ Ibid., p. 182.

\84\ 48 Stat. 8.

\85\ Waller, Rainey of Illinois, pp. 182-183.

  On another occasion, ``Rainey used his influence as Speaker to block 
legislation that was not a part of the President's urgent program.'' As 
the Senate began considering an industrial recovery bill limiting labor 
to a 5-day week and 6-hour day, ``Rainey predicted that if it should 
pass the Senate, it would be sidetracked in the House temporarily to 
clear the way for more urgent bills.'' When a companion bill to the 
Senate legislation was reported in the House, ``Rainey was not inclined 
to give the matter preferential treatment on the House floor, and 
supported the administration in its demand for considerable revision.'' 
During the delay, the White House developed its own measure--to be known 
as the National Industrial Recovery Act--embracing the reduced labor 
hours objectives of the competing House and Senate 30-hour week 

\86\ Ibid., pp. 183-184.

  Once the new measure was ready, Rainey announced that both the thirty-
hour week bills had been put on ice. Several House committees wanted 
jurisdiction over the new bill. The Speaker assigned it to the Ways and 
Means Committee, although it was not directly a revenue measure. Rainey 
used his discretionary power in assigning bills to committee to foster 
the Roosevelt program. By the close of the session, the bill for 
industrial self-government was ready for the President's signature. The 
thirty-hour measures were left in limbo.\87\

\87\ Ibid., p. 184.

  Not every piece of Presidential legislation offered to achieve 
economic recovery, however, required the Speaker's attention. For 
example, to enact Roosevelt's ``federal emergency relief, supervision of 
stock market operations, relief of small home owners, and railroad 
reorganization and relief'' proposals, ``Rainey's services as master 
parliamentarian were not needed.'' Nonetheless, the Chief Executive was 
appreciative of the assistance he provided.

  Rainey had identified himself fully with the President's program. 
While the Speaker is not called upon to vote during roll calls, the 
Illinoisan established a record by being enscribed as supporting New 
Deal measures on twenty-three separate occasions during the hundred 
days. At the close of the session, Roosevelt made a point of thanking 
the legislators through Rainey for their cooperation and teamwork in 
meeting the nation's problems.\88\

\88\ Ibid., p. 185.

  When the House convened in January 1934 to begin the 2d session of the 
73d Congress, Rainey predicted ``a short, harmonious and constructive 
session.'' The approaching fall elections, however, provided House 
Members a clear and understandable reason to assert themselves to gain 
visibility and an individual record that would justify being returned to 
office. This situation, together with the ``presidential decision to 
outline needed legislation in his annual message and let Congress iron 
out the details proved a detriment to a short and harmonious session, 
but it was nonetheless a productive term.'' \89\

\89\ Ibid., p. 187.

  As the session got underway, Rainey soon engendered Presidential 
displeasure on three issues. The first involved a bill providing special 
consideration for silver in financial transactions. In March, Rainey 
publicly praised the recently reported measure, and said it would likely 
pass the House and not incur White House objection. In fact, both the 
President and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau were, by one 
estimate, ``horrified at this bill's implications.'' Rainey subsequently 
got into a heated public dispute with Morgenthau over silver policy, 
moved the controversial silver bill, and was surprised by its approval 
by the House, which necessitated White House efforts to strike a 
compromise on the legislation in the Senate. More tension between the 
Speaker and the President ensued, but Roosevelt ultimately obtained 
sufficient compromise on the disputed legislation in the Senate that a 
veto was avoided. ``The silver inflation debate was the only major 
occasion on which the Speaker differed markedly with the President,'' 
but it was the first of three controversies that left Roosevelt with 
less than full confidence in Rainey.\90\

\90\ Ibid., pp. 189-191.

  The second controversy involved legislation--the Patman bonus bill--
authorizing an immediate payment to World War I veterans based upon 
their service certificates. During the latter half of February, 
supporters of the bonus bill obtained the requisite number of signatures 
on a discharge petition to force the measure out of committee. At that 
time, the President warned the House, through Rainey, that it was not 
the appropriate time to approve such legislation. Both Rainey and 
Roosevelt were unwilling to expend the $2.4 billion authorized by the 
bill. When some question arose as to whether or not the President would 
allow the proposal to become law without his signature, Rainey wrote for 
clarification and received what became a highly public and unequivocal 
response from Roosevelt saying he would veto the legislation. The House, 
nonetheless, elected to follow an independent course and, in early 
March, voted by a 3 to 1 margin to approve the discharge petition. 
Thereafter, the House approved the bonus bill on a 295 to 125 vote, but 
when it arrived in the Senate, it was reported adversely and died 
without a floor vote. Nonetheless, ``Rainey had been unsuccessful in 
getting the House to follow the President's guiding hand.'' \91\

\91\ Ibid., pp. 191-192.

  The third controversy arose with the Independent Offices 
Appropriations bill and adherence to the President's economy program. In 
early January, ``Rainey had pledged that the House would keep 
`absolutely' within the budget recommendation limits submitted by the 
President,'' which was done when the Independent Offices measure was 
considered, but ``only by an adroit series of parliamentary moves.'' As 
passed by the House, the bill was ``perfectly acceptable to the 
President.'' Senate leaders were unsuccessful in their efforts to defeat 
amendments providing for the restoration of government employee pay 
cuts. When the legislation came back to the House, Rainey did not follow 
custom and send it to a conference committee, but took the somewhat 
unusual step of referring it back to the committee of origin, presumably 
to be crafted into a version acceptable to both the Senate and the 
President. The Appropriations Committee, however, declined to redraft 
the Senate version, and Democratic leaders failed in two caucuses to 
bind their House Members to ignore the Senate amendments to the 
legislation. When the Rules Committee reported a special rule on the 
measure that would have sent it to a conference committee without 
instructions from the House, the rule was overwhelmingly defeated. The 
bill was then open to amendment from the House floor, and among those 
successfully added was the full restoration of veterans' benefits 
reduced by the Economy Act of 1933. Ultimately, House amendments added 
$228 million to the President's original recommendations, which both 
Houses accepted. The President, however, did not, and he vetoed the 
bill. Rainey confidently predicted the veto would be sustained, but he 
completely misjudged the situation. The House voted 310 to 72 to 
override, with no fewer than 209 Democrats bolting.\92\

\92\ Ibid., pp. 192-194.

  In the aftermath of this tumult--``Rainey helped to lead one revolt 
and was unsuccessful in halting the two others''--speculation and rumor 
soon arose that the President was sufficiently displeased with his 
party's House leaders that he would welcome a change. Emerging from a 
White House meeting in April, Rainey volunteered that the President 
``wanted me to stay where I am'' as Speaker of the House.\93\ After the 
2d session of the 73d Congress ended in mid-June, Rainey embarked upon 
an extensive speaking tour as an ambassador for the New Deal. On August 
10, due to fatigue and a slight cold, he elected to be admitted to a 
hospital in St. Louis for a few days' rest. Speaker Rainey died 
unexpectedly on August 19, 1934, 1 day short of his 74th birthday.\94\

\93\ Ibid., p. 197.

\94\ Ibid., pp. 202-203.

  Speaker Joseph W. Byrns.--An attorney and former member of the 
Tennessee legislature, Joe Byrns was elected to the House in 1908 as a 
Democrat and served in the 61st and 13 succeeding Congresses. During the 
72d Congress, he chaired the Appropriations Committee. He was among 
those who sought the speakership for the 73d Congress, and was made 
floor leader by the coalition that elected Rainey as Speaker. Although 
he was part of the House leadership that had displeased the President in 
1934, his party colleagues in the House had high regard for him, not 
only as their floor leader, but also as the chairman of their 
Congressional Campaign Committee. ``With his help,'' it has been 
observed, ``the Democrats had actually increased their representation in 
the House in the off-year election of 1934,'' with the result that many 
in his party who had been returned to their seats or were newcomers 
``felt themselves indebted to him.'' \95\ Many newspapers expected Byrns 
to be the next Speaker after Rainey's death. He had a few competitors 
for the position, the strongest of whom might have been Sam Rayburn of 
Texas, but he subsequently withdrew for several reasons, not the least 
of which was his State's control of several committee chairmanships and 
the Vice Presidency. Ultimately, the same coalition of northeastern, 
border, and midwestern Democrats who had installed Rainey as Speaker 
elected Byrns, with southern supporters, to that position.\96\

\95\ Peters, The American Speakership, p. 119.

\96\ Ann B. Irish, A Political Biography: Joseph W. Byrns of Tennessee 
(Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2001), pp. 190-199.

  While some of the President's ``brains trust'' advisers urged him to 
announce his support for Rayburn, whom they favored as Speaker, 
Roosevelt remained discreetly silent about the contest. By one estimate, 
``Byrns was probably not his preference, but he may have thought that 
Byrns would win.'' \97\ Nonetheless, ``among all the candidates for the 
speakership, the only one who had stood with FDR in opposition to the 
[veterans] bonus in the previous session had been Byrns.'' \98\ 
Moreover, ``Byrns was known for party loyalty, for always being a 
regular party supporter. While he had served as majority leader,'' it 
has been observed, ``his strong and continuing support of New Deal 
legislation, even those measures which he philosophically opposed, 
illustrated his party loyalty.'' \99\ In a radio address given shortly 
after the convening of the 74th Congress, Speaker Byrns indicated that 
it was ``not the function of Congress to initiate executive policies.'' 
That was the President's responsibility, and Congress ``is and should be 
proud to accept his leadership,'' he said. Of the issues he foresaw 
ahead, he hoped a noninflationary way could be found to pay the 
veterans' bonus.\100\

\97\ Ibid., p. 193.

\98\ Ibid., p. 196.

\99\ Ibid., p. 202.

\100\ Ibid., pp. 216-217.

  Byrns soon brought the bonus question before the House, the 
legislative solution being to provide the necessary $2 billion by 
printing more money--a clearly inflationary course of action. He was 
among the 90 Members who voted against the legislation. In the aftermath 
of Senate approval of the bill, the President personally delivered his 
veto message to a joint session of the two Houses of Congress when, at 
the conclusion of his remarks, he handed the rejected legislation to 
Byrns. Immediately thereafter, the House voted overwhelmingly to 
override the veto, ``but Byrns was one of the 98 in opposition.'' The 
next day, the Senate vote for an override was insufficient, but Speaker 
Byrns' loyalty to the President was, by then, on the record.\101\

\101\ Ibid., pp. 220-221.

  Byrns next became involved in negotiating a massive emergency relief 
appropriations bill. Many House Members wanted to specify the kinds of 
jobs that would be created by the legislation, thereby limiting the 
discretionary authority of Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, whom 
they felt was unresponsive to congressional concerns. In a meeting on 
this matter, Roosevelt, Byrns, and Appropriations Committee Chairman 
James Buchanan reached a compromise: the funds would be appropriated 
without directions to the President regarding their expenditure, but the 
President would allocate the money himself rather than designating Ickes 
to perform this task. Byrns obtained caucus agreement to the compromise 
and the bill received overwhelming party support, with only 10 Democrats 
voting against it in the House. ``Byrns had held his party in line; here 
was an example of his ability to forge consensus among the very 
different kinds of Democrats in the House.'' He and Vice President 
Garner subsequently intervened with the conference committee on the 
legislation to obtain a version acceptable to the President.\102\

\102\ Ibid., pp. 221-222.

  Next came the Social Security Program. Byrns exerted his influence 
early, referring the legislation to the Ways and Means Committee, whose 
members he perceived were more favorable to the proposal than the 
skeptical members of the Labor Committee. When there was hesitation to 
report the bill, Byrns convinced committee members ``that if they wanted 
to kill the measure, it should be defeated on the floor during public 
debate, not in a secret committee session.'' On the matter of a rule for 
bringing the legislation to the floor, ``Byrns insisted the debate be as 
open as possible so that members would feel trusted, not coerced.'' He 
``based his desire for an open debate on the social security bill on 
assurance from Pat Boland's whip organization that the bill would 
pass.'' Indications were that an alternative plan to the President's 
proposal did not have much support. Such proved to be the case; Byrns' 
strategy succeeded.\103\

\103\ Ibid., pp. 223-224.

  The House had to consider a number of additional important bills, and 
in expediting (or blocking) them, the speaker was influential mostly in 
little-noticed ways. These included persuading committees to finish 
their consideration so that bills could come to the floor, helping 
convince the Rules Committee to schedule bills for floor debate, and 
urging efficient floor consideration.\104\

\104\ Ibid., p. 224.

  The President's gratification with Byrns became apparent in early May 
1935 when ``Roosevelt lightheartedly scolded Senate leaders, suggesting 
they could learn from Speaker Byrns's methods and adopt legislation more 
expeditiously.'' \105\ When illness prevented William Bankhead from 
carrying out his duties as Democratic floor leader, Byrns sometimes 
functioned as Speaker and majority leader, ``and won compliments for his 
dual leadership role during Bankhead's absence.'' \106\

\105\ Ibid., p. 226.

\106\ Ibid., p. 227.

  When the sometimes fractious House came to the close of the 1st 
session of the 74th Congress in late August, it was clearly evident that 
``Byrns had helped the administration achieve its goals,'' the last 3 
months being so productive that many termed them the ``second hundred 
days.'' \107\

\107\ Ibid., p. 232.

  Returning from travel in Asia late in the year, Byrns foresaw 
``nothing on the horizon that should cause any controversies'' in the 
next session, but quickly added that ``one never knows what is going to 
happen in the legislative halls at Washington.'' The unforeseen did 
burst on the scene a few days after the new session got underway: the 
Supreme Court invalidated the Agricultural Adjustment Act, with the 
result that the Nation was left with no farm program. Byrns arranged for 
efficient House consideration and passage of a constitutionally 
acceptable replacement program.\108\

\108\ Ibid., pp. 241-242.

  More predictable was the early reappearance of veterans' bonus 
legislation. The track record on this issue was familiar by now, and 
support for such legislation was strengthened by a modest upturn in the 
economy and a looming national election. Byrns thought the passage of 
such a bill was inevitable. The White House may have concurred, but when 
the measure was sent to the President, he perfunctorily vetoed it, only 
to have his rejection overridden by both houses.\109\

\109\ Ibid., pp. 242-243.

  Due, in part, to Bankhead's return to perform his floor leader duties, 
``Byrns was not nearly as prominent in the 1936 session as he had been a 
year earlier,'' and ``because the long 1935 session had been so 
productive, the 1936 session saw less controversy and less necessity for 
a speaker to use his position publicly to achieve a result.'' As it 
happened, ``Byrns had no chance to compile his own summary of this 
session's accomplishments,'' it has been observed, ``but he must have 
felt satisfaction as he saw the Seventy-fourth Congress meeting the 
goals he had suggested at the outset of his speakership.'' \110\ 
Approximately 2 weeks prior to the end of the Congress, Speaker Byrns 
died suddenly on June 4, 1936.

\110\ Ibid., p. 249.

  Speaker William B. Bankhead.--Advised by the House Parliamentarian of 
the need for a new Speaker in order that the business of the 74th 
Congress could be concluded, House leaders turned to Will Bankhead.\111\ 
An attorney, State legislator, and city attorney of Huntsville, Bankhead 
was first elected to the House of Representatives from Alabama in 1915, 
serving in the 65th and 11 succeeding Congresses. His father had been a 
Member of the House and the Senate, and during his own service in the 
House, his brother was a Senator. Unsuccessful in his bid to become 
House majority leader in 1932, he became the acting chairman and then 
chairman of the Rules Committee during the 74th Congress. Two years 
later, his election as majority leader was secured. In his later 
congressional career, Bankhead was beset by health problems. He suffered 
major heart attacks in 1932 and 1935, and ``labored with a weak heart 
during the remainder of his life.'' \112\ As a consequence, Bankhead 
formed a close working relationship with his deputy, Majority Leader Sam 
Rayburn. ``Working in close cooperation with the administration, Sam 
Rayburn,'' according to one assessment, ``provided the strength that 
Bankhead lacked.'' \113\

\111\ Ibid., p. 252.

\112\ Peters, The American Speakership, p. 120.

\113\ Ibid.

  At the time of the death of Speaker Byrns in June 1936, the 
``Depression continued, but people had confidence that their federal 
government was working to end their distress.'' \114\ For many, the 
sense of desperation within the country had subsided and the relief 
legislation Congress was being asked to enact by the Roosevelt 
administration was of a smaller quantity and somewhat less urgent 
character than the New Deal proposals of 1933-1934. Indeed, the 
exclusively domestic focus of the first Roosevelt administration was 
supplemented with growing defense and foreign policy considerations 
during the second term. It was in this changing policy environment that 
Bankhead played his leadership role.

\114\ Irish, A Political Biography, p. 249.

  Bankhead's party loyalty was beyond question; the high regard in which 
he was held by minority leaders Bertrand H. Snell and Joseph W. Martin, 
Jr. and others is a testimony to his fairness as a presiding officer. 
His congressional colleagues remember him as the only Speaker who could 
get order in the House merely by standing up. Gavel rapping was seldom 
necessary. He followed House precedent and seldom made a formal speech. 
When he did leave the chair to speak in behalf of a particular bill, he 
was listened to with much more than usual interest.\115\

\115\ Walter J. Heacock, ``William B. Bankhead and the New Deal,'' 
Journal of Southern History, vol. 21, August 1955, p. 354.

  Bankhead's efforts (and those of Rayburn) to assist the White House 
with securing the passage of legislation addressing the emergency 
conditions of the Great Depression were complicated, and sometimes 
hampered, by other legislative issues and the President's demands 
regarding them. For example, ``the congressional leaders were not 
consulted and knew nothing of the President's explosive judiciary 
reorganization plan until they were called to the White House a few 
hours before it was made public.'' \116\ Subsequently, among the more 
``serious consequences'' of this legislation was ``the split it produced 
in the Democratic ranks'' with the result that ``congressional leaders 
encountered unexpected opposition to less controversial administration 
measures.'' \117\ The President's executive reorganization legislation, 
which was proposed shortly after his judiciary reorganization plan was 
unveiled, was affected, the bill being perceived ``as giving the 
President dictatorial power.'' The executive reorganization legislation 
``continued to be a headache for Bankhead and other party leaders until 
a greatly watered-down version was passed in 1939.'' \118\

\116\ Ibid., p. 355; see also Kenneth S. Davis, FDR: Into the Storm, 
1937-1940: A History (New York: Random House, 1993), pp. 84-87.

\117\ Heacock, ``William B. Bankhead and the New Deal,'' p. 356.

\118\ Ibid.; see, generally, Richard Polenberg, Reorganizing Roosevelt's 
Government: The Controversy Over Executive Reorganization, 1936-1939 
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966).

  Other fractious issues militating against Bankhead's efforts to gain 
support for the President's relief proposals included the Ludlow 
resolution, which proposed to amend the Constitution to require a 
national referendum to validate any congressional declaration of war and 
neutrality legislation.\119\ ``The year 1938,'' by one estimate, ``saw 
the culmination of domestic reforms and the shifting of attention to 
international affairs.'' \120\ Bankhead served Roosevelt as a 
legislative leader through the President's second term. He was not the 
only such leader consulted by the President. ``Roosevelt, preferring to 
deal with Congress in his own way, frequently chose to consult directly 
with chairmen whose committees held the fate of his program,'' and, it 
was said, by engaging in such consultations, ``FDR embarrassed Bankhead 
to demonstrate his own dominance over Congress.'' \121\ Although 
Bankhead was not among those ``urging the President to seek re-election, 
he announced his full support of the Roosevelt program and his readiness 
to support the President should he decide to seek another term.'' \122\ 
At the July 1940 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, he stood as 
a candidate to be Roosevelt's Vice Presidential running mate, but was 
not successful. Nonetheless, he subsequently called upon all Democrats 
to support the party ticket. Following his own advice, Speaker Bankhead, 
about to launch the Democratic campaign in Maryland with a speech in 
Baltimore, collapsed suddenly in his hotel room and died a few days 
later on September 15, 1940.

\119\ Davis, FDR: Into the Storm, 1937-1940, pp. 189-190, 392-394, 399-
415, 449-458.

\120\ Heacock, ``William B. Bankhead and the New Deal,'' p. 357.

\121\ D.B. Hardeman and Donald C. Bacon, Rayburn: A Biography (Lanham, 
MD: Madison Books, 1987), p. 245.

\122\ Heacock, ``William B. Bankhead and the New Deal,'' p. 358.

                              World War II

  At the time of Speaker Bankhead's death, nations of Europe had been at 
war for 12 months, and Japan's aggression in China had been underway for 
an even longer period of time. The formal entry of the United States 
into World War II occurred on December 8, 1941, with a declaration of 
war against Japan in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor in the 
Hawaiian Islands and other U.S. possessions that had occurred the 
previous day.\123\ Three days later, on December 11, war was declared 
against Germany and Italy.\124\ As a result of the 1940 elections, 
President Roosevelt had been returned to office for an unprecedented 
third term.

\123\ 55 Stat. 795.

\124\ 55 Stat. 796, 797.

  During Roosevelt's first and second Presidential terms (1933-1940), as 
totalitarian regimes began threatening the peace of Europe and Asia, 
Congress adopted a series of Neutrality Acts restricting arms shipments 
and travel by American citizens on the vessels of belligerent 
nations.\125\ Two months after war commenced in Europe in September 
1939, Congress, at the President's request, modified the neutrality law 
by repealing the arms embargo and authorizing ``cash and carry'' exports 
of arms and munitions to belligerent powers.\126\ Some advanced 
weapons--aircraft carriers and long-range bombers--were procured for 
``defensive'' purposes. More bold during the period of professed 
neutrality was the President's unilateral transfer of 50 retired 
American destroyers to Great Britain in exchange for American defense 
bases in British territories located in the Caribbean. The President 
also negotiated a series of defense agreements whereby American troops 
were either stationed on foreign territory or were utilized to replace 
the troops of nations at war in nonbelligerent tasks so that these 
countries might commit their own military personnel to combat. Such was 
the case with Canada when, in August 1940, it was announced that the 
U.S. Navy, in effect, would police the Canadian and American coasts, 
providing mutual defense to both borders. Canadian seamen would, of 
course, be released to aid the British Navy. In April 1941, American 
military and naval personnel, with the agreement of Denmark, were 
located in Greenland. In November, the Netherlands concurred with the 
introduction of American troops into Dutch Guiana.

\125\ 49 Stat. 1081, 1152; 50 Stat. 121.

\126\ 54 Stat. 4.

  With the declarations of war and the impending international crisis, 
Roosevelt, by one estimate, became ``a President who went beyond Wilson 
and even Lincoln in the bold and successful exertion of his 
constitutional and statutory powers.'' Congress ``gave the President all 
the power he needed to wage a victorious total war, but stubbornly 
refused to be shunted to the back of the stage by the leading man.'' The 
Supreme Court ``gave judicial sanction to whatever powers and actions 
the President and Congress found necessary to the prosecution of the 
war, and then post bellum had a lot of strong but unavailing things to 
say about the limits of the Constitution-at-War.'' \127\

\127\ Rossiter, Constitutional Dictatorship, p. 265; for a catalog of 
emergency powers granted to the President during the period of the war, 
see U.S. Library of Congress, Legislative Reference Service, Acts of 
Congress Applicable in Time of Emergency, Public Affairs Bulletin 35 
(Washington: Legislative Reference Service, 1945).

  The House Environment.--The 1940 elections gave the Democrats large 
majorities in the House (268 to 162) and Senate (66 to 28). As a result 
of the 1942 elections, these margins narrowed in the House (218 to 208), 
although less so in the Senate (58 to 37). The 1944 elections 
strengthened the Democratic majority in the House (242 to 190), but 
resulted in only a slight change in the Senate (56 to 38).

  Once war came, Congress quickly adjusted itself to the conditions of 
war, and it was by no means the anachronism that many--including some of 
its own members--predicted it would be. Issues were raised which needed 
to be resolved politically, and, as before the war, the President and 
the government agencies continued to ask Congress for funds and for 
authority. The President was given great powers, but he was not a 
dictator, and Congress did not become a rubber stamp in delegating 
power. The relationship with the President and the numerous war agencies 
raised many problems, for though it was agreed that the prosecution of 
the war came within the province of the President, Congress did not wish 
to delegate all authority over domestic issues to the expanding 
bureaucracy. A wartime President was expected to have more power, to be 
able to act without certain congressional restraints, but once this 
major premise was granted, the allowable sphere of congressional action 
had still to be determined.\128\

\128\ Roland Young, Congressional Politics in the Second World War (New 
York: Columbia University Press, 1956), pp. 4-5.

  In the House, Speaker Bankhead and Majority Leader Rayburn had 
encountered determined opposition to administration legislation from 
southern Democrats in 1938, but, ``when administration foreign policy 
was involved, the South was inclined to be cooperative.'' \129\ Such 
cooperation generally became more widespread as war erupted in Europe 
late the following year, and culminated in the declarations of war in 
December 1941. When the 1942 elections reduced the Democratic majority 
in the House, ``sniping at the administration increased'' during the 
78th Congress.\130\ The wartime bureaucracy was a primary object of 
attack and derision.

\129\ Heacock, ``William B. Bankhead and the New Deal,'' p. 357.

\130\ Josephy, On the Hill, p. 336.

  In the growing tensions and frustrations of the war economy, citizens 
registered complaints of every kind to their Congressmen--against 
administrative ineptitudes, against highhanded bureaucrats, controls, 
and rationing, against the forty-hour week and strikes, and against real 
or assumed injustices to relatives in the armed forces. Many members of 
both houses were quick to champion such causes, waging something of a 
guerrilla war in the two chambers and through the newspapers and radio 
against war agencies and their administrators. Much of the drumfire was 
of more than momentary significance, for it reflected a growing 
offensive to try to dismantle Roosevelt's prewar domestic reforms and 
halt any moves that tended to impose new social ideas.\131\

\131\ Ibid.

  It also contributed to a phenomenon, described below, which often 
produced consternation and discomfort for both the administration and 
the principal congressional leaders of the President's political party.

  The proliferation of investigation committees was one of the singular 
characteristics of the war Congress. The emphasis on investigation, on 
the control of policy after the passage of an Act, was a spontaneous 
congressional reaction, as it were, to the increasing number of 
activities with which the administrative branch was concerned. At the 
beginning of the war, the major investigation committees were the Truman 
Committee (Senate Special Committee Investigating the National Defense 
Program), which was interested in questions relating to production; the 
Tolan Committee (House Committee on Inter-state Migration), which 
broadened its activities from migratory labor to include also general 
problems relating to the organization of production; the Murray and 
Patman Committees (Senate and House Committees on Small Business); the 
Maloney Committee (Senate Special Committee to Investigate Gasoline and 
Fuel-Oil Shortages); and the House and Senate Committees on Military 
Affairs and on Naval Affairs. There was considerable overlapping of 
committee interests inasmuch as jurisdictions were not precisely 
determined. Some dozen different committees were concerned with such 
controversial subjects as rubber production; manpower policy was 
considered by the Labor Committee as well as by the Military Affairs, 
Appropriations, Judiciary, and Agricultural Committees, and by the 
Truman and Tolan Committees.\132\

\132\ Young, Congressional Politics in the Second World War, p. 19; 
concerning the Truman committee, see Donald H. Riddle, The Truman 
Committee: A Study in Congressional Responsibility (New Brunswick, NJ: 
Rutgers University Press, 1964); Harry A. Toulmin, Jr., Diary of 
Democracy: The Senate War Investigating Committee (New York: Richard R. 
Smith, 1947); Theodore Wilson, ``The Truman Committee, 1941,'' in Arthur 
M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Roger Bruns, eds., Congress Investigates: A 
Documented History, 1792-1974, vol. 4 (New York: Chelsea House, 1975), 
pp. 3115-3136.

  Generally, the congressional situation did not improve as the 
prospects for victory in Europe and the Pacific steadily became stronger 
during 1943 and 1944 and Roosevelt's return to the White House for a 
fourth Presidential term grew more likely. By one estimate, the ``1944 
session of Congress, attuned to the presidential election of that year, 
was more partisan and quarrelsome than the one of the year before.'' 
\133\ In the subsequent playout of history, Roosevelt retained the 
Presidency and his party increased its majority hold on the House, but 
his tenure in office ended suddenly on April 12, 1945, with his death in 
Warm Springs, GA. Shortly thereafter, on May 8, came the Allies' victory 
in Europe, followed by victory over Japan on August 15.

\133\ Josephy, On the Hill, p. 338.

  Speaker Sam Rayburn.--First elected to the speakership on September 
16, 1940, to succeed the fallen Will Bankhead, Samuel T. Rayburn 
remained in this position throughout the years of World War II, and 
subsequently became the longest serving Speaker--over 17 years--in 
American history. A Texas attorney and State legislator, he was first 
elected to the House in 1912 as a Democrat, serving in the 63d and the 
24 succeeding Congresses. Rayburn became the chairman of the Interstate 
and Foreign Commerce Committee during the 72d Congress and remained in 
that leadership position for the next two Congresses. In this capacity, 
he had endeared himself to the Roosevelt administration by assisting 
with the passage of some of the most controversial New Deal 
legislation.\134\ Moreover, within a few years after entering the House, 
Rayburn became a protege of the influential John Nance Garner, who 
became an intermediary to the House for President Wilson, Speaker of the 
House (1931-1932), and Vice President (1933-1941).\135\ His close ties 
to Roosevelt and Garner, as well as his being a member of the powerful 
Texas congressional delegation, militated against his initial attempts 
to gain a top House leadership position in 1934.\136\ ``Speaker Byrns's 
death in 1936 opened the door for Rayburn,'' it has been said, ``and 
Speaker Bankhead's death four years later closed it behind him.'' \137\ 
Moreover, his long experience in the House would serve him well. Indeed, 
according to one considered view, ``Sam Rayburn entered upon the duties 
of Speaker of the House with better training for the speakership than 
any of the forty-two men who had preceded him.'' \138\

\134\ Peters, The American Speakership, p. 123.

\135\ Ibid., p. 120.

\136\ Ibid., pp. 118-119.

\137\ Ibid., p. 121.

\138\ Booth Mooney, Roosevelt and Rayburn: A Political Partnership 
(Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1971), p. 147.

  The House environment initially encountered by Speaker Rayburn in 1941 
was familiar from his recent majority leader experience. ``The 
Democratic majority was substantial, but it included a number of members 
who were prepared to oppose the administration on almost any given 
issue,'' according to one assessment.\139\ Moreover, there were 
dangerous cross currents at work.

\139\ Ibid., p. 155.

  The delicate situation was made more so by the necessity of winning 
congressional acceptance of a shift in the official government posture 
toward the war in Europe. The President, while pushing for a strong 
defense program, had sedulously endeavored to turn popular thinking away 
from the possibility that the nation might become involved in armed 

\140\ Ibid.

  The President quickly tested Rayburn's skills as a legislative manager 
working on his behalf. In early January, administration draftsmen began 
developing a bill authorizing the President to have the Armed Forces 
place orders for such defense articles as they required, as well as for 
such additional quantities of such materials as the United States might 
lend or lease to other nations. Great Britain, which had just repelled 
savage and sustained German air attacks, would be the immediate 
beneficiary. Rayburn contributed to perfecting the final version of the 
lend-lease legislation, which was introduced by Majority Leader John 
McCormack as H.R. 1776, ``A Bill to Further Promote the Defense of the 
United States.'' \141\

\141\ See, generally, Warren F. Kimball, The Most Unsordid Act: Lend-
Lease, 1939-1941 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1969).

  The bill defined defense articles so broadly as to make nearly 
anything a defense article if the President said so. It authorized the 
Chief Executive to order any government official to have manufactured in 
arsenals, shipyards, factories or to procure in any way any defense 
article for the use of any country the President named--
``notwithstanding the provisions of other laws.'' The President also 
could order any defense article to be sold, exchanged, transferred, 
leased, lent, or tested, inspected, proved, repaired, outfitted or 
reconditioned, for the use of any party he might name--again without 
regard to other laws. The bill provided that defense information might 
be communicated to any government the President named and that any 
defense article could be released for export to any country he named. 
And it authorized the President to issue such orders as he considered 
necessary to carry out any part of the act.\142\

\142\ Mooney, Roosevelt and Rayburn, p. 159.

  Rayburn began gathering votes in support of the legislation. He could 
count on the southern Democrats, who were ``almost unanimously 
interventionist while the Republicans were hopelessly split.'' After 
canvassing other colleagues, he perfected four specific modifications, 
to be approved in committee, which would garner additional votes for the 
measure on the floor. ``Rayburn thought it might also be well, as an 
insurance measure, to do some trading with representatives from farm 
states by providing that cash payments would be made for food and other 
raw materials provided under terms of the bill.'' Finally, ``during the 
two days of debate Rayburn successfully stifled efforts by isolationist 
members to amend it into innocuousness.'' The House adopted the 
legislation in early February by a margin of almost 100 votes.\143\ It 
was subsequently signed into law on March 11, 1941.\144\

\143\ Ibid., pp. 160-162.

\144\ 55 Stat. 31.

  An even more daunting task, however, soon fell to Rayburn. The 
military conscription law enacted in September 1940, providing that Army 
draftees would be in uniform for only 1 year of training, would expire 
unless it was statutorily extended before the end of August. In 
continuing the draft law, Roosevelt wanted to extend tours of service to 
18 months. Opposition to extending the law was widespread and highly 
emotional. Initially, Rayburn personally appealed to many of his 
colleagues, being ``no less convinced than Roosevelt that an extension 
of the draft was imperative for national security.'' \145\ Up to the 
moment the final vote began, the outcome was uncertain. The clerk 
completed the first call of names and then started the second required 
call to obtain the votes of those who had not initially answered. The 
result was a tie, which meant defeat for the draft extension bill, but 
many Members were coming to the well of the House to be recognized to 
change their votes. When this process reached a point where the vote was 
203 to 202 in favor of the legislation, Rayburn announced the final vote 
and declared the bill had passed. Protests broke out. The Speaker 
recognized a Member opposed to the bill, who asked for a recapitulation 
of the vote, a purely mechanical examination of the vote to determine 
that each Member had been correctly recorded. When this was completed, 
Rayburn declared there was no correction in the vote, ``the vote stands, 
and without objection a motion to reconsider is laid on the table.'' The 
tabling of the motion to reconsider meant that no reconsideration could 
occur without unanimous consent. The draft extension bill had been saved 
in the House by a single vote and the adroit action of the Speaker.\146\

\145\ Mooney, Roosevelt and Rayburn, pp. 164-165.

\146\ Alfred Steinberg, Sam Rayburn: A Biography (New York: Hawthorn 
Books, 1975), pp. 171-172.

  In the closing weeks of 1941, Rayburn was instrumental in obtaining 
passage of amendments to the Neutrality Acts which would allow armed 
American merchant ships to enter combat zones or the ports of 
belligerent nations. He gained some votes by persuading the President to 
send him a letter making a personal appeal for the amendments. This he 
read on the floor to the Members, but, to garner a sufficient number of 
votes for the amendments, he also agreed to allow an antistrike bill, 
which he had blocked because he considered it unfair, to come to the 
floor. ``If Rayburn deserved credit for winning repeal of the neutrality 
restrictions,'' it was observed, ``he also shared blame for allowing a 
harsh antistrike measure to pass the House a few days later.'' \147\ The 
political climate, necessitating such tradeoffs, would shift 
significantly shortly thereafter with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 
entry of the United States into World War II.

\147\ Hardeman and Bacon, Rayburn, p. 272.

  United, at least, in their desire to win the war, Democrats and 
Republicans temporarily put aside their differences to give Franklin 
Roosevelt the basic laws he needed to strengthen the war effort. 
Victories came deceptively easy for the House leadership as Congress 
handed the President vast wartime powers, appropriated staggering sums 
for the military, found new revenue to finance the war by adding some 25 
million Americans to the tax rolls, and expanded the draft to include 
18-year-olds. ``No administration in time of war ever had greater 
cooperation than we have given the present administration,'' said House 
Republican Leader Joe Martin.\148\

\148\ Ibid., p. 279.

  This last action--extending the draft to 18-year-olds--was costly for 
Democrats in the House and Rayburn could see the result when he convened 
the 1943 session: 50 Members from his party in the previous Congress 
were gone, and his margin over the minority was 11 votes. The 
precariousness of the situation soon became apparent when a large number 
of southern Democrats failed to appear on the House floor to cast their 
votes for an initial group of administration bills, causing them to be 
defeated. Rayburn, however, declined to punish the absentees.\149\ 
Nonetheless, his efforts on behalf of the administration during the year 
brought him public praise from both the President and the First 
Lady.\150\ There was even a fleeting possibility that Rayburn might 
become Roosevelt's Vice Presidential running mate on the 1944 
ticket.\151\ Rayburn was reelected to the House where he once again was 
installed as Speaker and the Democrats again held a 50 vote margin.

\149\ Steinberg, Sam Rayburn, p. 213.

\150\ Ibid., p. 215.

\151\ Ibid., pp. 215-220, 222; Hardeman and Bacon, Rayburn, pp. 291-297.

  Renewed optimism gripped Washington as 1945 began. It promised to be 
an eventful year. The Democrats firmly controlled Congress. Political 
appointees could see four more years of job security ahead. In Europe, 
the allies were drawing a tight ring around Hitler's Germany; in the 
Pacific, U.S. Marines were advancing rapidly toward a final showdown 
with Japan. The war would be over in a year, according to most 

\152\ Hardeman and Bacon, Rayburn, p. 301.

  Indeed, it was an eventful year: the Presidency of Franklin D. 
Roosevelt came to an end with his death, and the end of World War II 
came with the dawning of the Atomic Age. The career of Sam Rayburn as 
Speaker of the House, however, continued for many years after the 
conclusion of the national emergencies which had first tested his 
                                Chapter 8

                        The Changing Speakership

                          Ronald M. Peters, Jr.

     Regents' Professor, Carl Albert Research and Studies Center and

         Department of Political Science, University of Oklahoma

  The speakership is a unique office due to its dual institutional and 
partisan functions. On the one hand, the Speaker of the House is its 
constitutionally designated presiding officer. As such, the Speaker has 
an obligation to preserve the prerogatives and respect the integrity of 
the House as a whole and of all of its Members without regard to party 
affiliation. The Speaker's main parliamentary obligation is to enable 
the House to perform its legislative functions. To the office is 
entrusted the responsibility to facilitate the legislative process so 
that the Congress can perform its constitutional role. On the other 
hand, the Speaker is the leader of the majority party and is responsible 
for offering political and policy direction, attending to the electoral 
needs of Members of his own party, and enabling his party to gain or 
retain a legislative majority so that it can press its policies into 
public law.
  In the 30 years since the reform movement of the early seventies, the 
speakership has undergone substantial change. The evolving character of 
the office has demonstrated two tendencies: a shift in emphasis from the 
parliamentary role of presiding officer to the political role of party 
leader, and a shift in attention from legislation to events external to 
the legislative process. This change can be easily illustrated by 
contrasting the way that Speaker Carl Albert (D-OK, Speaker from 1971 to 
1977) and current Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) allocated their time. 
Albert presided over the reform movement. A protege of Speaker Sam 
Rayburn (D-TX), Albert bridged the transition from the pre-reform to the 
post-reform eras. He straddled the transition from the old order to the 
new, but his orientation toward the speakership was distinctly 
traditional. Albert was well known for a punctilious attendance on his 
duties as presiding officer, recognizing Members to speak, ruling on 
points of order, and so forth.\1\ He was often to be found in the chair, 
and felt that it was the best place to be if one wanted to feel the 
pulse of the institution, as Members knew where to find him and would 
frequently come to visit with him. When not presiding, Albert was 
typically to be found in his office, arriving at 7 each morning and 
usually not leaving the building until the early evening. His attendance 
at political functions was intermittent, and participation in 
fundraising events was rare. Albert did initiate some changes consistent 
with the new order. He proposed a legislative agenda, was the first to 
use an ad hoc committee to process legislation, the first to utilize a 
party task force to define a party position, and the first to hire a 
full-time press secretary. Nonetheless, Albert recognized his obligation 
to fulfill the Speaker's parliamentary role. This was clearly 
illustrated in his approach to the impeachment proceedings for President 
Nixon and the handling of Vice President Agnew's resignation, during 
which Albert was insistent that no partisan advantage be taken.

\1\ The Speaker does not preside over the Committee of the Whole House, 
where most amendments to legislation are considered. He does preside 
over the House itself on final consideration of legislation, unless he 
chooses to name a Speaker pro tempore. Speaker Albert usually did not 
name a Speaker pro tempore unless he was unable to preside for some 
reason. Speaker Hastert routinely appoints Speakers pro tempore.

  Speaker Hastert's schedule is fuller and his days perhaps even longer 
than Albert's, but his time is spent differently. He is rarely in the 
chair. Instead, his time is spent in an endless series of meetings with 
members of the extended leadership group, members from various 
committees working on pending legislation, various factional 
organizations within the Republican conference, staff meetings to 
develop legislative strategy, meetings to set strategies for upcoming 
campaigns and elections, and of course, the meetings, phone calls, 
receptions, and trips necessary to sustain the legislative party's 
fundraising base. Whereas Speaker Albert had his primary residence in 
Washington, DC, Speaker Hastert maintains his primary residency in his 
Illinois district, and spends many weekends at home there.\2\ Speaker 
Albert rarely traveled to campaign or to solicit campaign funds; Speaker 
Hastert visits scores of legislative districts each year, and is his 
legislative party's primary fundraiser. When Hastert was elected Speaker 
it was anticipated that he would take a different approach to the office 
than had his predecessor, Newt Gingrich (R-GA). Gingrich had offered 
himself as a national leader of the Republican Party and wanted to use 
the speakership as a platform for his policy positions. He was also the 
field general of the Republican revolution, raising money and 
campaigning for Members. Hastert, in contrast, was to be a ``man of the 
House,'' returning the House to ``regular order,'' and respecting the 
prerogatives of the committees. When we consider how Hastert spends his 
time, however, it looks a lot more like Gingrich than like Albert. 
Hastert travels often, has raised more money than Gingrich did, and is 
deeply engaged in both legislative and political strategy.

\2\ Jonathan Franzen, ``The Listener,'' New Yorker, Oct. 6, 2003, pp. 

  How did the speakership evolve from Albert to Hastert, and what have 
been among the most important aspects of this transformation serving to 
define the speakership today? To address these questions, we first 
discuss the political context that defines the speakership today. Then, 
we consider the changing character of the Speaker's role within the 
legislative process, the ``inside game.'' Third, we characterize the 
increasing external demands on the Speaker, the ``outside game.'' 
Fourth, we assess the relationship between the Speaker's internal and 
external role in the context of what has been called the ``permanent 
campaign.'' Fifth, we consider the Speaker's important relationship to 
the Presidency. We conclude by considering the effect on the speakership 
of political party and the personal characteristics of individual 

                          The Political Context

  In a stable, democratic regime the process of change often occurs so 
incrementally that we do not take note of the changes until they have 
already occurred. Occasionally, of course, there is a sharp break with 
the past. Such was the case when the reform movement fundamentally 
realigned the power structure in the House, empowering the Speaker and 
diminishing to a degree the power of the committees. But we can now see 
that the changing character of the speakership was not due to the 
changes wrought by the reform movement as much as it was to an 
underlying realignment in American politics. The reformers themselves 
did not foresee this. They were liberal Democrats who wanted to break 
the grip of the southern, conservative committee chairs of their own 
party; but they certainly had no notion of empowering Republicans.\3\ 
They wanted to strengthen the speakership because this would serve their 
own policy goals; but they had no desire to create a ``czar'' for the 
House. The liberal Democrats believed that the majority of the American 
people supported their policy positions, and that a more open and 
accountable legislative body would embrace those policies; they did not 
anticipate that the more open and accountable process could be accessed 
by conservative Republicans whose aim was to drive them from power. But 
this is in fact what happened.

\3\ Burton D. Sheppard, Rethinking Congressional Reform (New York: 
Schenkman, 1985).

  The realignment in the American political system that brought about 
the transition from a Congress dominated by the Democrats to one that, 
albeit narrowly divided, is at present under Republican control, took a 
full generation to materialize. It began with the passage of the Civil 
Rights Act of 1964 which, as President Johnson well understood, opened 
the door to the South to the Republican Party. It was delayed for 20 
years in part because the Watergate scandal enabled the Democrats to 
seize and subsequently to hold a substantial number of previously 
Republican districts in the elections of 1974 and 1976. It culminated in 
the election of Republican House and Senate majorities in the 1994 
election. By the 2000 election, the American people appeared to be about 
evenly divided in their support of Democrats and Republican; but the 
constitutional structure gives more square miles to the GOP, with the 
Democrats piling up substantial majorities in congressional districts 
that are stacked on the two coasts and in the big cities of the Midwest. 
With population shifting to the South and Southwest, and with the 
conversion of the South from Democratic to Republican control, the 
political landscape has been radically transformed since the reform 
movement in the House of Representatives. One result has been the 
``homogenization'' of the two parties.\4\ Most Democrats and Republicans 
now hold safe seats. As the two parties have sorted out the districts, 
each party has become more ideologically homogenous. Democrats are more 
solidly liberal with a small and dwindling number of conservatives; 
Republicans are now more solidly conservative with a small and dwindling 
number of moderates. Thus, two evenly divided congressional parties face 
each other across a wider ideological chasm. There are two principal 
consequences of this: first, each party must place greater emphasis on 
elections in order to hold place; second, the majority party (presently 
the Republicans) must gather legislative majorities from within its own 
ranks since it can anticipate few, if any, crossover votes from the 
minority (now the Democrats).

\4\ David W. Rhode, Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).

  The House of Representatives was a main battleground of this partisan 
realignment. Beginning with the election of 1978, a new generation of 
younger, more conservative, and more confrontational Republicans came to 
the House determined to bring to the House a Republican majority.\5\ 
Their leader was Newt Gingrich. During the eighties, Gingrich and his 
allies in the ``Conservative Opportunity Society'' sought every 
opportunity to challenge the Democrats--their policies, their leaders, 
and their management of the House. The Republican's goal was to turn 
seats held by Democrats into seats held by Republicans. This Republican 
onslaught forced the Democrats to take defensive measures in both the 
legislative and electoral processes. Legislatively, the Democrats sought 
to use their majorities to control the House agenda in order to prevent 
the Republicans from forcing floor votes on politically inspired 
amendments. This greatly enhanced the role of the Speaker and the Rules 
Committee as agents of party governance. Electorally, the Democrats 
sought to strengthen their fundraising capacity, candidate recruitment, 
and electoral strategy. As their leader, Speakers O'Neill, Wright, and 
Foley became increasingly engaged in electoral activities. These 
activities were not confined to a campaign season, but instead extended 
through the calendar year with planning for the next election beginning 
as soon as the current election was over.

\5\ Dan Balz and Ronald Brownstein, Storming the Gates (Boston: Little 
Brown, 1996).

  Since the Republican triumph in the 1994 elections, party control of 
the House of Representatives has been up for grabs. The Republican 26-
seat majority was initially expanded by the recruitment of five party-
switching Democrats, but then dwindled with the elections of 1996 and 
1998 to establish the very narrow Republican House majority we observe 
today.\6\ In the description of Michael Barone:

\6\ At the outset of the 108th Congress there were 229 Republicans, 205 
Democrats, and 1 Independent who organized with the Democrats.

  The United States at the end of the 20th century was a nation divided 
down the middle. In 1996, Bill Clinton was re-elected with 49.2 percent 
of the vote. That same year, Republicans held the House, as their 
candidates led Democrats by 48.9 percent to 48.5 percent. In 1998, 
Republicans again held onto the House, as their candidates led in the 
popular vote by 48.9 percent to 47.8 percent. On November, 7, 2000--
although the final result was not known until 5 weeks later--George W. 
Bush won 47.9 percent of the vote, and Al Gore won 48.4 percent. The 
same day, House Republican candidates led Democrats by 49.2 percent to 
47.9 percent.\7\

\7\ Michael Barone, ``The 49 Percent Nation,'' National Journal, June 8, 
2001, pp. 1710-1716.

  Congressional redistricting pursuant to the 2000 census has reinforced 
the current stalemate. The term limits movement reached its zenith in 
the late eighties and early nineties when it appeared that the only 
incumbent Members of the House likely to be defeated were under 
indictment or the shadow of scandal. In 1988, only six incumbents were 
defeated. The stability of incumbency provided little basis for 
anticipating the Republican victory in 1994. Rapid turnover marked the 
elections of 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1996. Not only were the two parties 
narrowly divided, but average seniority plummeted as long-serving 
Members retired or were defeated. Given the close competition for 
control of the House one might have expected that a pattern of regular 
turnover, incumbent vulnerability, and changes in partisan control might 
have emerged. Instead, the House has become as stable as it was before, 
even though it is more narrowly divided. In the 2000 redistricting, 
Republicans and Democrats worked at the state and national levels to 
create safe-seat districts for incumbents with the result that only a 
few dozen House seats are competitive in a typical election year. In the 
2002 congressional elections, 96 percent of incumbents were 

\8\ The effect of redistricting is not only to secure safe seats for 
incumbents; it also has the effect of tying those incumbents to primary 
election voters who are typically more partisan than general election 
voters. This accentuates the partisanship in the House. Previously, 
safe-seat incumbents had more leeway to vote against the leadership; now 
they have less. For a recent discussion see Jeffrey Toobin, ``The Great 
Election Grab,'' New Yorker, Dec. 8, 2003, pp. 63-80.

  Thus, the political context in which the speakership functions today 
is defined by a stable but narrow division between the majority 
Republicans and the minority Democrats. Should the Democrats succeed in 
electing a majority of Members in a future election, it seems very 
likely that their majority would be as narrow as that which the 
Republicans now enjoy. The result is that the two parties continuously 
contest power, policy, and politics. This has occasioned new roles for 
the Speaker both within the House and external to it.

                             The Inside Game

  The reform movement offered new power and influence to the Speaker.\9\ 
The most significant change under the rules of the House pertained to 
bill referral. The Speaker was empowered, in 1975, to offer multiple and 
sequential referral of bills to committees in order to facilitate 
consideration of legislation that cut across the jurisdictions of the 
standing committees. Committee chairs could no longer stand behind 
jurisdictional claims in order to delay legislation or dictate its 
terms. More important changes occurred within the rules of the 
Democratic Caucus. The Speaker was given real control over the Rules 
Committee, naming its chair and designating the majority members, making 
it for the first time since the revolt against Speaker Cannon in 1910 a 
reliable arm of the leadership. This meant that the Speaker would be 
able to control terms of floor consideration for bills and could keep 
legislation off of the floor entirely by denying a rule. The power of 
naming Democrats to committees was transferred from the Democratic 
Caucus of the Ways and Means Committee, which held this responsibility 
since the days of Champ Clark and Oscar Underwood, to the party's 
Steering and Policy Committee, several members of which were named by 
the Speaker. The Steering and Policy Committee also made nominations to 
the Democratic Caucus for committee chairs. Within the committees, a 
bidding process was established for selecting subcommittee chairs, 
further eroding the power of the committee chairs. These changes 
dramatically strengthened the power of the Speaker vis-a-vis that of the 
committees and their chairs, as the reformers intended.

\9\ Sheppard, Rethinking Congressional Reform. See also Ronald M. 
Peters, Jr., The American Speakership, 2d ed. (Baltimore, MD: Johns 
Hopkins, 1997), pp. 146-208.

  These changes also placed demands upon the Speaker. No longer could a 
Speaker sit back and allow others to decide committee assignments, chair 
appointments, bill referrals, and the terms of floor consideration. Now 
the Speaker had to take a hand and take a stand. Sam Rayburn had been 
happy to avoid these choices because he knew that it would thrust him 
into the middle of conflicts between the southern conservative and 
northern liberal wings of his party. This is precisely what happened to 
Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright, and Tom Foley. The initial effect of the 
reforms occurred within the Democratic Caucus as the policies of the 
Carter administration divided the Democrats along ideological and 
regional lines.
  Tip O'Neill's use of legislative task forces to forge floor majorities 
was a response to the more diffuse legislative environment but also to 
the underlying cleavages among Democrats. O'Neill found it necessary to 
draw upon the powers of the speakership to shape the context of 
legislation. The multiple referral of bills meant that compromise would 
have to be brokered across committee and subcommittee jurisdictions. The 
Speaker and his staff had to become involved early rather than late in 
the legislative process. The Speaker's control of the Rules Committee 
meant that he could shape the terms of floor consideration, including 
the determination of amendments to be made in order. Structuring floor 
consideration provided opportunities to negotiate compromise by enabling 
some amendments and not others. The use of task forces to press for 
passage of key bills or amendments provided a mechanism to push through 
the compromises that had been made. Thus, the Speaker's role in the 
legislative process became much more pervasive.
  In addition to changes that empowered party leaders, there was also a 
countertendency during this period toward greater autonomy of individual 
Members. Tip O'Neill's most famous aphorism was that ``all politics is 
local.'' Political science ratified this discovery when it found that if 
you wanted to understand the Congress you had to understand the 
relationship between Members and their districts.\10\ In the seventies, 
a new breed of representatives was identified, comprised of Members who 
were found to be more autonomous and more entrepreneurial, the ``new 
American politician.'' \11\ The decentralization of power in the House 
reflected the aspirations of such Members. Members learned to work their 
districts by a range of techniques that included good old-fashioned 
constituency service, pork barreling, extensive use of the frank, 
regular trips to the district, occasional townhall meetings, and other 
novelties such as ``representation vans,'' mobile offices that traveled 
the district.\12\ These techniques were developed first by younger 
Democrats elected in the post-Watergate landslides, and they enabled the 
party to consolidate its control as many Democrats hung on to previously 
Republican districts. This was good news for Democratic Speakers. But 
other aspects of the new politics were not so good. Under the terms of 
the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 1974, Members could receive campaign 
contributions from individuals and newly defined ``political action 
committees.'' This development enabled enterprising Democrats to 
establish independent and secure funding for their campaigns. The result 
was that Members became less and less dependent on the political parties 
and the party leadership. If all politics is local, then the tug of 
constituency would pull Democrats away from centralized party positions 
and make coalition-building more difficult. That was the challenge that 
Tip O'Neill faced.

\10\ Richard Fenno, Home Style (Boston: Little Brown, 1978); David R. 
Mayhew, Congress: The Electoral Connection (New Haven, CT: Yale 
University Press, 1974).

\11\ Burdette Loomis, The New American Politician (New York: Basic 
Books, 1988).

\12\ Fenno, Home Style.

  The inside game is affected by outside forces. The political terrain 
fundamentally changed with the election of Ronald Reagan and a 
Republican Senate in 1980. During the Carter administration, the Speaker 
was asked to play offense, building majority support for Democratic 
bills. Now, O'Neill was on the defensive. The House of Representatives 
was the last bastion of the Democrats facing the Reagan onslaught. Faced 
with the real possibility of losing the House, Speaker O'Neill sought 
means of building greater discipline within the Democratic Caucus. 
Whereas during the Carter administration O'Neill had occasionally let 
the chips fall where they may, he could not take that risk when faced 
with Republican proposals. The Republicans were to hold the Presidency 
for 12 years. For 6 of those years, the House of Representatives was the 
only branch of the government controlled by the Democrats. Reaganism 
would be stopped there or not at all.
  The implication for the Speaker's management of the House was twofold: 
on the one hand, control of the House agenda was now critically 
important; on the other hand, the balance of power now lay with the 
southern Democrats who had organized into the ``Conservative Democratic 
Forum.'' O'Neill had to reach out to these conservatives while still 
maintaining the support of liberals in opposition to the Reagan 
proposals. During the first year of the Reagan administration Tip 
O'Neill lost these battles as the southerners, shaky in their districts, 
jumped ship to support Reagan. Thereafter, O'Neill was more successful 
in holding the caucus together behind Democratic alternatives. He always 
lost some Democratic votes, but was able to hold a sufficient majority 
of the party on several key votes. Examples include 1981 votes on the 
Voting Rights Act Extension and on the Labor/Health and Human Services 
Appropriation bill, and 1982 votes on emergency housing aid, Medicare 
funding, and an override of President Reagan's veto of a supplemental 
appropriations bill.
  The techniques that he used were not by then new but were used to new 
effect. An example is the use of the Rules Committee to structure floor 
debate. During the Carter administration O'Neill was less concerned with 
losing votes than with politically inspired Republican amendments 
designed to force Democrats on the record on controversial issues. Now, 
he had to worry that Republicans might carry comprehensive substitute 
amendments or motions to recommit bills to committee with instructions, 
another method of substituting Democratic bills with Republican bills. 
Thus, in the early eighties the House Rules Committee, led by 
Congressman Richard Bolling (D-MO) introduced the use of ``King of the 
Hill'' rules by which the House would consider a series of comprehensive 
budget proposals, including bills offered by liberal Democrats, by 
conservative Democrats, by the Congressional Black Caucus, and by the 
Republicans, along with the bill proposed by the House Budget Committee 
on behalf of the leadership. The last bill to pass was to be adopted 
even if it had fewer votes than a previously considered proposal. 
Naturally, the leadership bill was voted on last. This strategy aimed to 
give as many Democrats as possible a vote to take home and a vote that 
really counted, leaving the Republicans to cavil about the process.
  Stringent control of process was the key device. The Democrats had 
increasing recourse to modified rules that limited the number and nature 
of amendments that could be offered. They sought to prevent Republicans 
from offering competitive proposals or amendments that were designed to 
force Democrats from conservative districts to cast hard votes. But 
their main goal was to develop legislative alternatives that could 
gather support across the party spectrum. This became more important 
after the 1986 elections returned the Democrats to power in the Senate. 
Now, the Democrats could force the action by passing party bills that 
Presidents Reagan and Bush would have to sign or veto. While Republican 
Senators could still mount filibusters, the Democrats had more leeway to 
craft bills that could command majorities in both houses of Congress. 
This created a need for even broader intra-party communications. The 
response of Speakers O'Neill and Wright was to preside over the 
development of an elaborate organizational system that included an 
expanded Steering and Policy Committee, an enlarged whip organization, 
more extensive use of task forces, and new efforts to utilize the 
Democratic Caucus as an avenue for policy development and intra-party 
dialog. These collaborative venues and mechanisms aimed to build 
consensus among Democrats in order to enact Democratic legislation.\13\

\13\ Peters, The American Speakership, pp. 209-286; Barbara Sinclair, 
Majority Party Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives 
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983); Barbara Sinclair, 
``Tip O'Neill and Contemporary House Leadership,'' in Roger H. Davidson, 
Susan Webb Hammond, and Raymond W. Smock, eds., Masters of the House: 
Congressional Leadership Over Two Centuries (Boulder, CO: Westview 
Press, 1998), pp. 289-318.

  The culmination of these trends occurred in the 100th Congress under 
the leadership of Speaker Jim Wright.\14\ This Congress was among the 
most productive in recent American history, and its agenda was set and 
driven by Speaker Wright and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-
ME). In the House, Wright used all of the tools that had evolved under 
Speaker O'Neill, but did so with more determination and insistence. 
Wright set the policy agenda, gave direction to committees, set 
deadlines for committee consideration of bills, and used the tools of 
floor control to ramrod bills to passage. Using this legislative 
juggernaut (and the fact that the Democrats were in some cases spreading 
benefits to Republican districts), the Democrats pushed to enactment a 
number of bills with bipartisan support. Many House Republicans chafed 
under the Democratic thumb, equally resentful at the Democrats and at 
President Bush for his unwillingness to stand up for conservative 
principles. Bush signed an extension of the Civil Rights Act as well as 
major environmental bills that included provisions that many Republicans 
opposed. Many perceived his worst offense was reneging on his pledge 
against new taxes as part of the budget negotiations of 1990. House 
Republicans initially balked, thus repudiating their own President.

\14\ John Barry, The Ambition and the Power (New York: Viking Press, 
1989); Barbara Sinclair, ``The Emergence of Strong Leadership in the 
U.S. House of Representatives,'' Journal of Politics, vol. 54, no. 3, 
Aug. 1993, pp. 657-683.

  A key moment for Speaker Wright occurred in October 1987 when the 
House was considering the budget for the fiscal year already underway. 
The stock market had plunged and there was an atmosphere of panic on 
Wall Street if not in Washington. Wright felt that it was imperative 
that Congress act to adopt a budget. However, when the Speaker lost the 
vote on the ``rule'' from the Rules Committee making the deficit 
reduction bill in order for consideration, he employed a rare tactic 
that would permit another ``rule'' to be taken up on the same day 
without having to obtain the required two-thirds vote. (The rule book of 
the House requires ``rules'' to lay over one day before they can be 
considered on the floor unless that requirement is waived by a two-
thirds vote of the House.) Wright took the extraordinary step of 
declaring the current legislative day adjourned, and declaring a new 
legislative day in session. He then called for a new vote on the second 
rule, which was adopted by the House. When, again, the Democrats were 
one vote short, Wright held the vote open until a vote was changed. When 
the voting board showed a majority for the Democrats, Wright declared 
the vote over.
  This episode played into the image of Wright as a heavy-handed 
politician that many Republicans were trying to convey to the public 
with their relentless assault on his ethics. And no doubt Wright's 
actions were extraordinary and unusual. But this episode offers only a 
dramatic example of an underlying tendency toward the use of procedural 
control that had evolved since the reform movement and certainly 
throughout the eighties. Wright used his formal powers to control 
legislative procedure and used his influence to pressure Members to 
support the party position. Wright's specific actions were sometimes 
controversial, but the principle underlying them was not: the Speaker 
was responsible for the party's agenda.
  With Wright's resignation in 1989, Tom Foley (D-WA) became Speaker. 
Foley was well suited to the challenges facing him in two respects. 
First, he was a seasoned product of the new leadership, richly 
experienced in the techniques of intra-party coalition building that had 
evolved under O'Neill and Wright. Second, he took very seriously his 
obligation, as Speaker, to restore a sense of comity across party lines. 
Wright's resignation, however, only served to whet Gingrich's appetite, 
and the Republican attacks on the Democrats' administration of the House 
continued. Internally, the Republicans challenged Democratic management 
of the House bank, restaurant, and post office. Externally, they called 
for term limits. Foley sought to defend the House against these 
institutional attacks, arguing that the vast majority of Members were 
serious, competent, and ethical. Foley also opposed term limits on 
constitutional grounds.
  The Democrats might have survived the 1994 elections were it not for 
key strategic decisions made early in the Clinton administration. 
Congressional reform had been an issue during the 1992 campaign, and new 
Democratic Members elected that year pressed the leadership to pursue an 
internal reform agenda. Speaker Foley and other party leaders looked 
back on the experience of the seventies and drew two lessons: reform is 
always divisive and the failure to govern is usually fatal. During the 
first half of the seventies the Democrats fought each other over reform 
issues. During the second half of the seventies, they fought with the 
Carter administration over policy issues such as health care cost 
control. The chosen path now was to put reform on the rear burner in 
order to unite behind an economic program in support of the Clinton 
administration. This strategy led the Democrats to a major tax increase 
in 1993 that passed with no Republican votes, and led the Democrats away 
from any effort to address the internal reforms demanded by Republicans 
and the new Democrats.
  This contributed to the election of a Republican majority in 1994 and 
a new Speaker in the 104th Congress, Newt Gingrich. It immediately 
became clear that the Republicans intended to manage the internal 
administrative and legislative affairs of the House very differently 
than had the Democrats. With respect to administration, Speaker Gingrich 
sought to professionalize and, where possible, privatize management. He 
took control of the Office of House Administrator, which had been 
created by the Democrats in the wake of the scandals at the House bank, 
restaurant, and post office. This led to a tussle with the House 
Administration Committee, the venue for Member control of administrative 
process. Gingrich initially won this battle and was able to implement a 
series of major administrative reforms, including the elimination of the 
Office of Doorkeeper and the professionalization of the Office of 
Sergeant at Arms. Eventually, Gingrich's hand-chosen administrator came 
under attack by the House Administration Committee, and was fired. The 
House Administration Committee reasserted its prerogatives.
  With respect to legislation, Gingrich and his leadership circle were 
determined to make sure that, under Republican control, the committees 
would be subordinated to the party leadership. They placed a three-term 
limit on service as committee chair and a four-term limit on the 
speakership. Term limits greatly enhance the power of the Speaker 
relative to the committee chairs. Speaker Gingrich also assumed the 
power to appoint several committee chairs, abandoning seniority in some 
important instances, and approved some of their senior staff. Proxy 
voting in committees, which had been an important resource for 
Democratic chairs, was abolished. With the committee system firmly in 
control, he nonetheless proceeded to bypass the committees entirely in 
moving key elements of the Republican Contract with America. Ad hoc task 
forces were appointed to develop legislation. These task forces 
sometimes worked in cooperation with lobbyists. The Democrats, members 
of the committees but not of the task forces, were essentially cut out 
of the legislative process.
  Gingrich's conception of the speakership was essentially 
parliamentary, although he conflated the role of Speaker and Prime 
Minister. Under the British Constitution, the Speaker of the House of 
Commons is thoroughly non-partisan. Those appointed Speaker remove 
themselves from partisan politics not just during their tenure in 
office, but permanently. They fulfill what we have here termed the 
``constitutional'' function of presiding officer. Party leadership is 
left to the Prime Minister who, when supported by a majority of party 
members, is able to dominate the legislative process. The Prime Minister 
also serves as Chief Executive. In a parliamentary system, there is 
greater party discipline and bills are more likely to be passed along 
party lines. Gingrich, as Speaker, saw himself as the leader of the 
congressional party and as a national political leader for the 
Republicans. As discussed further below, he sought to stand toe-to-toe 
with the Presidency. With respect to internal House governance, he 
sought to gather the strings of power in his own hands. Surrounded by a 
rather narrow leadership circle (the Speaker's advisory group), he 
sought to dictate strategy and in some cases the terms of legislation. 
This is not to say that he was not consultative; the task forces, 
extensive communications operation, and extended leadership staff 
structure, along with the weekly meetings of the Republican conference, 
provided ample opportunity for Member input. But Gingrich did not want 
to be constrained by an autonomous committee structure.
  The momentum generated by the 1994 election and the novelty of the 
Republican takeover of the House sustained this powerful leadership 
regime through the 104th Congress even as Gingrich came under attack by 
the Democrats for violations of House ethics rules. As Gingrich's 
position eroded, his various leadership mantras (listen, learn, help, 
lead) appeared less salient to the needs of Republican Members. 
Gingrich's leadership became increasingly problematical for many 
Republicans. The 73 new Republicans elected in 1994 were very 
conservative, and thought that the Speaker was too accommodating. More 
senior Members thought that he was too overbearing. In July 1997 a coup 
attempt was aborted. The committee chairs became restive, insisting on 
their prerogatives. After the Republicans lost 8 seats in the 1998 
election, 1 of them, Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Livingston 
(R-LA), announced his candidacy for Speaker. Gingrich withdrew from the 
contest and announced his planned resignation from the House. Then, in a 
surprising development, Livingston himself resigned. In a crisis, the 
Republicans turned to Chief Deputy Whip Dennis Hastert of Illinois as 
their new Speaker.
  Hastert wanted to return the House to ``regular order,'' by which he 
meant that the committees would resume their legislative functions. This 
led some to an impression that Hastert was more like Foley, if not 
Albert. Others suggested that Republican Whip Tom DeLay was the more 
influential member of the Republican leadership team. With DeLay's 
election as majority leader in the 108th Congress, he has been widely 
regarded as exercising more influence than previous majority leaders, 
possibly suggesting a relationship between Hastert and DeLay similar to 
that of Speaker Champ Clark and Majority Leader Oscar Underwood. This 
perception of DeLay's power often comes from the Democratic side of the 
aisle. It is important to focus on the role that Speaker Hastert 
actually plays. The speakership remains more powerful under him than it 
was under any of his Democratic predecessors. While Hastert is not in 
the dominating position that Gingrich, for a time, was, he is not 
vulnerable to the kind of internal dissension that eventually brought 
Gingrich down. He is very popular among Members. Hastert decided to make 
term limits for committee chairs stick and then, at the outset of the 
108th Congress, his members voted to remove term limits on the 
speakership. It seems plain that the Republicans are satisfied with his 
leadership. A reasonable depiction of the Republican leadership under 
Hastert would characterize the Speaker and his subordinate leaders as 
playing different but complementary roles. As Speaker, Hastert is the 
glue that holds the Republicans together. He plays a listening, 
conciliating role similar to Democratic Speakers such as Tip O'Neill and 
Tom Foley. In the inside game, he is the dealmaker and the closer. Tom 
DeLay's role is rather different. As whip, he counted the votes and 
rallied the troops. As majority leader, he presses for policies 
supported by the conservative majority in the Republican conference.\15\ 
These party leaders appear to be doing about what their job descriptions 

\15\ DeLay is also very active in promoting and enlarging the Republican 
majority through fundraising and redistricting efforts, important 
aspects of the outside game discussed below. See Richard E. Cohen, ``The 
Evolution of Tom DeLay,'' National Journal, Nov. 15, 2003, pp. 3478-

  Under Hastert's leadership, the Republicans have sought to develop 
legislation that almost all Republicans support, and then to ram that 
legislation through on the House floor. Initially, the Republicans 
sought to avoid using restrictive rules for floor consideration of 
bills, but they eventually faced the reality of their situation. With a 
narrow majority, party bills have to be protected on the floor against 
divisive amendments. The result is that Speaker Hastert has had strained 
relations with the Democratic leadership. Democratic Floor Leader 
Richard Gephardt did not get along with Speaker Gingrich and it was 
anticipated that his relationship with Speaker Hastert would be better. 
This anticipation ignored the underlying political reality. The 
Democrats want to win back the House and to do so they have to go on the 
offensive. This is a lesson they learned from Newt Gingrich. Speaker 
Hastert wants to protect his legislative majority and will use the 
powers of the speakership toward that end. This has contributed to a 
decline in comity in the House observable over the past two decades. It 
seems likely to endure so long as the House is relatively closely 
divided. The new Democratic floor leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is moved 
by the same imperatives as her predecessor. Perhaps the best that can be 
hoped for during this season of heavy political maneuvering is that 
Members and party leaders will find a way to depersonalize the fight and 
restore to the House its most important tradition, the respect that 
Members should have for each other as representatives of their 
constituents, the American people. That Speaker Hastert is personally 
well-liked by many Democrats is helpful.\16\

\16\ Jonathan Franzen, ``The Listener,'' New Yorker, Oct. 6, 2003, pp. 

  The imperatives of the legislative process, however, make it difficult 
for the majority and minority parties to work together. Speaker Hastert 
has defined his institutional obligation to the minority by two 
criteria: the Speaker should rely on the nonpartisan recommendations of 
the House Parliamentarians in making rulings from the chair; and the 
minority party by rule is entitled to offer a motion to recommit with 
instructions. Beyond this, it is the Speaker's obligation to pass 
legislation.\17\ When in passing the 2003 Medicare reform bill Hastert 
held the vote on final passage open for almost 3 hours (normally votes 
consume 15 minutes) in order to round up enough Republican votes to pass 
the bill, he was, in his words, ``getting the job done.'' Democrats 
alleged abuse of power and fundamental unfairness. Speaker Hastert here 
faced a dilemma that defines the speakership today. Any modifications in 
the Medicare bill that might have attracted more Democratic votes would 
have cost more Republican votes, and any changes that might have 
attracted more Republican votes would have lost sufficient Democratic 
votes to defeat the bill. The choice was to pass the bill or not to pass 
the bill. Hastert defines his obligation as passing legislation. In 
this, his attitude is identical to that of his Republican and Democratic 

\17\ See Speaker Hastert's comments printed in this volume.

\18\ When asked to define the job of Speaker, John W. McCormack (D-MA) 
said that it was the Speaker's job to marshal majorities to pass 
legislation on the House floor. Interview with author, July 1979.

                            The Outside Game

  Even as House Speakers have come to play a much more central role in 
the legislative process, they have also become much more actively 
engaged in the electoral process. When Carl Albert was Speaker, the 
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee held one major fundraising 
event each year. Political action committees did not exist.\19\ While 
the Speaker and other party leaders would from time to time attend 
fundraisers on behalf of Members, these usually took the form of 
receptions held in Washington and raised relatively small amounts of 
money. Speakers had long gone on the campaign trail on behalf of 
Members. In the 19th century this was called ``the canvas'' and Speakers 
would go ``canvassing'' on behalf of Members in the 2 months immediately 
prior to the election. As Speaker, Albert campaigned in Member districts 
during the runup to the election, but the number of such appearances was 

\19\ Robin Kolodny, Pursuing Majorities (Norman, OK: University of 
Oklahoma Press, 1998).

  Speaker O'Neill was more broadly engaged. He selected Tony Coehlo (D-
CA) to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and brought 
that position into the inner leadership circle. Coehlo's charge was to 
dramatically enhance the congressional party's fundraising base by 
bringing in more contributions from corporate and special interest 
political action committees. O'Neill permitted Coehlo to schedule him 
for party fundraisers and, during the campaign season, for political 
appearances on behalf of Democratic candidates in competitive districts. 
Still, O'Neill's electoral activities were relatively modest in 
comparison to that of subsequent Speakers. In order to understand the 
dynamic, it is necessary to shift focus from O'Neill as Speaker to Jim 
Wright, his majority leader.
  Tip O'Neill had become Speaker before the effects of the Campaign 
Finance Reform Act of 1974 were fully experienced. He never had a 
leadership PAC and he did not need one. Leadership PACs were developed 
by Members who aspired to become Speaker. Through them, the majority 
leader, party whip, or key committee chairs could build constituencies 
among Members by providing campaign contributions. While Tip O'Neill 
preoccupied himself with the legislative battles in Washington, Jim 
Wright was seeking to build support within the Democratic Caucus. He 
campaigned on behalf of hundreds of Democratic candidates during his 10 
years as majority leader. His activities established a norm for 
subordinate party leaders that carried into the speakership itself. 
Fundraising became a year-round activity. Under Coehlo's influence, the 
party leadership took a more active hand in recruiting candidates. 
Wright was as, or more, active in this respect as was O'Neill. Wright 
knew that when O'Neill retired he might well face opposition in his bid 
to become Speaker by rivals such as John Dingell (D-MI) and Dan 
Rostenkowski (D-IL), two powerful committee chairmen. Press reports 
openly discussed the rivalry between these aspirants. Wright had won the 
majority leadership by a single vote in 1976, and he appears to have 
concluded that the best means of ensuring his election as Speaker was by 
holding more chits among Members. Thus, his fundraising and campaign 
activities served his own interest as well as that of the party.
  Since the eighties it has become customary for party leaders to 
develop their own fundraising PACs alongside their fundraising efforts 
on behalf of the Congressional Campaign Committees and individual 
Members. These efforts create centrifugal force. Each aspirant to higher 
leadership position seeks to build a constituency of Members who will 
support a later candidacy. The results can be telling. When the 
Democrats first made the choice of their whip an elected position in 
organizing the 100th Congress in 1987, Congressman Coehlo was chosen due 
primarily to his fundraising activities. He had become an independent 
operator within the Democratic leadership group. After the Republican 
victory in the 1994 elections, Speaker Gingrich appeared to be in a 
position to dictate the terms of party organization. His preferred 
choice for GOP whip was a long-time ally, Congressman Robert Walker (R-
PA). Walker was challenged by Congressman DeLay, and DeLay won a closely 
contested election. Among the main reasons for DeLay's election as whip 
was the investment he had made through his PAC in the campaigns of 
numerous Republican challengers. These new Members recognized an 
obligation and a relationship to DeLay.\20\ As whip, DeLay was 
instrumental in supporting Dennis Hastert's election as Speaker. DeLay 
built an unprecedented power base that later led to his election as 
Republican floor leader.

\20\ DeLay claimed that 54 of 73 freshmen Republicans voted to make him 
whip. Hedrick Smith, The Unelected: The Lobbies, PBS Video, 1996.

  By all accounts, however, it was Newt Gingrich who transformed 
expectations for party leaders, especially the Speaker, in party 
fundraising. The tale of Newt Gingrich's rise to the speakership has 
been well told.\21\ In leading the Republicans to the promised land 
Gingrich recruited and trained candidates, articulated a GOP message, 
organized the party apparatus, and campaigned actively. He also raised 
money, and lots of it. When Tony Coehlo was raising money for the 
Democrats in the mideighties, total spending on House races came to 
around $204 million. When the Republicans took the House in 1994, the 
figure was $371 million. By 2000, it had risen to over $550 million.\22\ 
Since 1994, the Speaker has been the most important fundraiser for the 
Republicans. Furthermore, the Republican leadership now expects 
committee chairs to contribute to the campaigns of Members and 
candidates in closely contested districts.\23\ The Speaker, then, is 
soliciting even more money than he may raise directly. Gingrich had the 
reputation as fundraiser par excellence. But the Speaker's role as 
leading party fundraiser is endemic to the office and not a product of 
the person. Speaker Hastert was not generally known to be deeply 
involved in fundraising during his years as chief deputy whip; but as 
Speaker, he has raised more money than did Speaker Gingrich.

\21\ Balz and Brownstein, Storming the Gates; David Maraniss, Tell Newt 
to Shut Up (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996).

\22\ Campaign Finance Institute, Web site, http://

\23\ On the relationship between campaign fundraising and committee 
chair appointments, see Paul R. Brewer and Christopher J. Deering, 
``Interest Groups, Campaign Fundraising, and Committee Chair Selection: 
House Republicans Play Musical Chairs,'' in Paul S. Herrnson, Ronald G. 
Shaiko, and Clyde Wilcox, eds., The Interest Group Connection: 
Electioneering, Lobbying, and Policymaking in Washington (New York: 
Chatham House Publishers, 2004).

  The Speaker's fundraising role has one very specific consequence: he 
is asked to travel a great deal. Over a 2-year election cycle, the 
Speaker will appear in most, if not all, Republican districts. Today, 
the Speaker's obligation to elect and maintain his party's majority 
makes it imperative that he travel to districts for fundraising events 
and that he campaign on behalf of candidates in closely contested 
districts. These obligations, of course, take him away from the Capitol 
on a regular basis. While a Speaker will always give precedence to 
critical legislative matters, he now may be less able to provide a full-
time leadership presence on Capitol Hill. Speaker Gingrich had hoped to 
impose a system of delegated responsibility that would free him to be a 
national leader and issue articulator while often leaving legislative 
mechanics to subalterns. He was surprised in June 1997 when subordinate 
leaders included a politically inspired provision to prevent any future 
shutdown of the Federal Government on an emergency flood relief bill 
that he supported.\24\ The following month, a group of ``renegade'' 
Members supported by some members of the leadership group sought to oust 
him while he was out of town. It appears that Gingrich had allowed 
himself to become too removed from the sentiments of his Members 
including his most trusted allies. While Speaker Hastert also relies on 
the extended leadership group to facilitate the legislative process, he 
is consistently involved in negotiating intra-party agreements. He keeps 
his finger on the pulse of the House. Sam Rayburn used to say that if a 
Speaker could not feel the mood of the House he was lost. While Hastert 
seeks to foster his relationships with Members, he still finds it 
necessary to balance his internal and external role, a task made more 
difficult by electoral demands.

\24\ Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1997, vol. 53 (Washington: 
Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1998), pp. 1-14--1-15.

  One aspect of the Speaker's external role is media relations.\25\ As 
mentioned, Speaker Albert was the first Speaker to appoint a formal 
press secretary. He named a relatively junior member of the staff whose 
function was to respond to press inquiries. Speaker O'Neill elevated the 
prominence of the press secretary's role in proportion to his own rising 
public profile. O'Neill wanted a press secretary who would be in regular 
touch with key members of the press corps, a competent spinner who was 
adept in presenting the Democratic position and in articulating 
O'Neill's own perspective. He settled upon Chris Matthews, later of 
``Hardball'' fame. Since then, all Speakers have had press secretaries 
who have served in this capacity. Within the extended leadership group, 
the focus was on projecting the party ``message'' in contrast to that of 
Republican administrations. Under O'Neill, message development was 
assigned to the leadership and staff of the Democratic Caucus, but all 
members of the extended leadership group participated in defining and 
projecting the party's themes. Under Speakers Wright and Foley, the 
message function was further elaborated and institutionalized. Each 
Speaker had a press secretary responsible for handling the media.

\25\ Douglas B. Harris, ``The Rise of the Public Speakership,'' 
Political Science Quarterly, vol. 113, Summer 1998, pp. 193-211.

  In this, as in other respects, the external function of the 
speakership took a quantum leap when the Republicans came to power.\26\ 
Whereas the Democrats had delegated message development to a caucus 
working group and the Speaker's press secretary functioned primarily in 
support of his media relations, the Republicans sought to systematically 
integrate message development and media relations. The Speaker's press 
secretary led a staff with responsibility to coordinate message and 
media. Each Republican Member designated a communications director. The 
Republican conference, like the Democratic Caucus, was given the 
outreach function. It included the development of a sophisticated 
polling capacity, a state-of-the-art Web site, and an extensive talk 
radio initiative. Speaker Gingrich's press secretary, Tony Blankley, was 
a sophisticated Washington insider, well connected to the national press 
corps. Under his leadership, the Speaker's press relations reached its 
zenith and found its limits. For in spite of the greater degree of 
organization and more expansive efforts, the House Republicans continued 
to lose ground in the public relations battle with the Clinton 
administration. In part, this was simply due to unequal resources and 
organizational capability. Even though more robust than at any previous 
time, the House communications and media operation still paled in 
comparison to the scope and sophistication of the White House 
Communications Office. The former consisted of a press secretary with a 
small staff working in cooperation with over 220 Members who were all 
independent operators. The White House had an around-the-clock 
communications operation staffed in shifts that was prepared to offer a 
Presidential response on any issue within a half-hour. And too, in spite 
of Speaker Gingrich's high public visibility, it is the President who 
has the bully pulpit and not the Speaker.

\26\ Some observers stress the continuity between the Democratic and 
Republican Speakers of the post-reform era. See Barbara Sinclair, 
Legislators, Leading, and Lawmaking (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins 
University Press, 1995); Sinclair, ``Transformational Leader or Faithful 
Agent? Principal-Agent Theory and House Majority Party Leadership.'' 
Legislative Studies Quarterly, vol. XXIV, no. 3, Aug. 1999, pp. 421-449.

  The Republican effort under Speaker Gingrich might have been more 
productive had Speaker Gingrich better appreciated the risks inherent in 
the high public profile that he sought. History demonstrates that 
Speakers often become famous at their own risk. In the late 19th 
century, Speakers such as James G. Blaine (R-ME) and Thomas Brackett 
Reed (R-ME) were dominating figures embroiled in regular controversy. 
Blaine came under an investigation for his financial dealings. Reed was 
not tainted by scandal but his assertion of the powers of the chair (and 
his acerbic wit) made him a ripe target for the Democrats. Uncle Joe 
Cannon, of course, represented the apotheosis of the partisan 
speakership at the turn of the century and became a campaign issue in 
the 1910 elections. From Cannon to O'Neill, no Speaker attained any 
great degree of public recognition, much less notoriety. It was said 
that Sam Rayburn could walk down most streets in Washington without 
being recognized. All of this changed when Tip O'Neill became the 
Nation's leading elected Democrat and therefore the primary opponent of 
President Ronald Reagan. O'Neill became a symbol of Democratic 
liberalism, an icon on the left, but viewed as a relic by the right. 
Republicans ran campaign advertisements against him in 1982 and baited 
him on the floor in 1985, but it was all to no avail. Speaker O'Neill's 
public approval ratings exceeded those of Ronald Reagan when he left 
office and he had succeeded in preserving the heart of the welfare state 
against the Reagan onslaught.
  His Democratic successors had less luck. During the 100th Congress, 
Speaker Jim Wright drove the legislative process and moved to 
consolidate his power. Recognizing the threat, the Republicans, led by 
Newt Gingrich, charged Wright with violating House ethics rules. In June 
1989 Wright resigned the speakership and his House seat rather than put 
the House through the agony of a floor vote on the ethics charges. His 
successor, Tom Foley, was not vulnerable to ethics complaints, but had 
opposed a term limits proposition in his home State of Washington. The 
Republicans accused Speaker Foley of opposing his own constituents and 
funneled money to his opponent in the 1994 elections. Foley lost his 
House seat and the Democrats lost their majority in the House and in the 
  Newt Gingrich certainly was aware that two consecutive Speakers had 
been dethroned; he, after all, had been part of those efforts. He made 
Wright's and Foley's leadership of the House campaign issues and painted 
the two Speakers as symbols of what was wrong with the House under 
Democratic control. He could not have been surprised, then, when the 
Democrats, led by Whip David Bonior (D-MI), chose to repay him in kind, 
lodging over 80 ethics charges against the Speaker. The ethics battle 
was fought out over the course of the 104th Congress, and culminated 
when Gingrich agreed to accept a censure and financial penalty for 
having provided false information to the Committee on Standards of 
Official Conduct [Ethics Committee]. The resolution of the ethics 
charges did not alleviate the pressure on the Speaker. President Clinton 
had won a square off with congressional Republicans over the government 
shutdowns of late 1995 and early 1996, and during his Presidential 
campaign he associated Gingrich and Republican Presidential candidate 
Robert Dole with putatively reactionary policies. Speaker Hastert has 
maintained a much lower profile than had Speaker Gingrich. He was 
largely unknown to the general public when he became Speaker and remains 
relatively unknown even now. Hastert's lower visibility represents a 
strategic choice. He has had ample opportunity to observe the fates of 
his three immediate predecessors, and has yet managed to lead his party 
to victory in both the 2000 and 2002 elections. Given the effects of 
redistricting, some believe the Republican majority may be secure for 
years to come. The Democrats will, of course, strive to win enough seats 
to dislodge the Republicans from power. But they are likely to make 
little progress by attacking Hastert. The Speaker is popular among those 
who know him, and little known otherwise. Amiability and a sense of 
personal decency will perhaps enable him to avoid becoming a symbol of 
the larger political conflict. Under Speaker Hastert, the communication 
operation has centered in the Republican conference and its extended 
staff. The Speaker's press secretary, John Feehery, functions more in 
the role of Chris Matthews, providing interface between the Speaker and 
the press corps. Since Hastert has deliberately chosen a more low 
profile role than had Gingrich (or, for that matter O'Neill), Feehery's 
role is to make sure that the press knows what Hastert wants it to know 
about the Speaker's legislative and political activities. Since the 
election of George W. Bush, message coordination with the White House 
has become a key component of congressional Republican strategy. The 
goal has been to echo, and not drown, the Presidential message.

                      The Speaker and the President

  The relationship between the Speaker and the President has been 
historically significant. The U.S. Constitution refers to five officers 
of the Federal Government: the President, Vice President, Chief Justice 
of the Supreme Court, President of the Senate (a position filled by the 
Vice President), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. By 
statute, the Speaker stands second in line to the Presidency, and 
Speaker Albert twice was first in line, a ``heartbeat away'' from the 
Oval Office. Sam Rayburn used to say that he had served under no 
President but had served with seven. Actually, Rayburn always 
demonstrated deference to the Presidents with whom he served. His ties 
to Roosevelt and Truman were particularly close, but Rayburn and Senate 
Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) chose to work cooperatively with 
President Eisenhower rather than to seek confrontation with him. In 
part, this reflected the fact that Rayburn and Johnson straddled the 
divide between southern conservative and northern liberal Democrats; but 
it also revealed Rayburn's sense of the constitutional obligation of the 
Speaker to make the government work. With the election of Richard Nixon, 
cooperation between House Speakers and Presidents of the opposite party 
ended, and relations between Speakers and Presidents of their own party 
has been sometimes strained.
  Much of this is explained by the political context. When the Speaker 
and the President are of the same party, there will be an incentive to 
cooperate, amply demonstrated today by the relationship between Speaker 
Hastert and President Bush. Bush relies on the House Republican majority 
to set the table for dealings with the more recalcitrant Senate. But 
these relations can be strained nonetheless, as witness the experience 
of Tip O'Neill and Jimmy Carter. The Speaker at times has a greater 
incentive to protect his Members than to support the President, and if 
Presidential initiatives put Members at risk, the Speaker might oppose 
them. Otherwise, electoral catastrophe may ensue, as apparently happened 
when Speaker Foley placed support of the Clinton economic and health 
plans above the need to address political and institutional reform.
  When the Speaker and the President are political opponents, then most 
incentives lead to conflict. The two leaders will differ 
philosophically, have different and opposing political constituencies 
and party interests, and clashing institutional obligations. The 
impeachment proceedings against Presidents Nixon and Clinton suggest the 
extremes to which this conflict may be carried, but these are simply the 
most obvious manifestations of the underlying tendency. Historically, 
only a few Speakers have actually sought to place themselves on a par 
with the Presidency. Henry Clay was a national leader during his entire 
career as House Speaker and Senator, and as Speaker did not take a back 
seat to Presidents Madison and Monroe. Uncle Joe Cannon was perfectly 
willing to oppose progressive legislation proposed by President Theodore 
Roosevelt, although the number of progressive laws enacted during 
Roosevelt's administration testifies that Cannon did not always 
obstruct. Most recently, Speaker Gingrich brought to office a very high 
expectation of the Speaker's role.\27\ During the 104th Congress, he was 
characterized as the most important policymaker in the government. After 
Congress completed work on the elements of the Contract with America, 
(enacted in fewer than 100 days in symbolic emulation of the New Deal 
and Great Society), Gingrich went on national television to speak to the 
American people. At a meeting in New Hampshire he conducted a joint 
press conference with President Clinton and the two men shook hands over 
a pledge to press for lobby and campaign finance reform. Gingrich's 
aspirations came a cropper when the Republican Congress mishandled the 
budget negotiations with the White House.\28\ Clinton proved that the 
Presidency had a louder megaphone than the Speaker of the House. Public 
opinion sided with Clinton and Gingrich's approval ratings plummeted, 
never to recover. Clinton rebounded from the low point of the 1994 
election to win easy reelection in 1996. He survived the Republican 
attempt to impeach him, and left office with high public approval 
ratings. This record suggests that Speakers need to be very careful when 
they take on Presidents. The Speaker can articulate issues and give a 
face to the loyal opposition; but the resources available to the 
speakership appear to be insufficient to win in a sustained battle with 
the White House.\29\

\27\ Elizabeth Drew, Showdown: The Struggle Between the Gingrich 
Congress and the Clinton White House (New York: Simon and Schuster, 

\28\ In his remarks at the Congressional Research Service/Carl Albert 
Center Conference on the Speakership, former White House Chief of Staff 
Leon Panetta offered the budget negotiations of 1995 and 1996 as an 
example of mistaken political judgment by the House leadership. In 
response, Speaker Gingrich argued that by closing down parts of the 
government House Republicans had shown resolve that was reassuring to 
the financial markets. There is little doubt that public opinion favored 
the administration in this conflict. The remarks of Mr. Panetta and Mr. 
Gingrich appear in this volume. For an analysis similar to Mr. 
Panetta's, see Ronald M. Peters, Jr. and Craig A. Williams, ``The Demise 
of Newt Gingrich as a Transformational Leader,'' Organizational 
Dynamics, vol. 30, no. 3, 2002, pp. 257-268.

\29\ That Tip O'Neill was successful in fighting a rear-guard action 
against Reagan is a conspicuous exception to the generalization that 
Speakers will usually lose battles with Presidents, and was certainly 
related to O'Neill's favorable public image. For a perspective on the 
relationship between Presidents and Speakers, see Jim Wright, Balance of 
Power: Presidents and Congress from the Era of McCarthy to the Age of 
Gingrich (Atlanta: Turner Publishing Company, 1996).

                         The Permanent Campaign

  The inside game and the outside game are related. Recently, political 
scientists have used the term ``permanent campaign'' to describe this 
now extended period of close division in the Congress and intense 
competition for control of the House and the Senate.\30\ In 
understanding the evolving role of the speakership, it is important not 
only to understand the role that the Speaker plays in the campaign 
process (a ``permanent'' one to be sure), but, as or more important, how 
the pressure of electoral politics has reshaped the legislative 
environment and altered the Speaker's internal role. Previously, we 
described that role and stressed the greater involvement of the Speaker 
in the legislative process. The Speaker has become more systematically 
involved in all aspects of legislation at every lawmaking stage. In the 
context of the permanent campaign, however, we stress the strategic 
implications of the Speaker's role and how that has affected the House 
and the speakership.

\30\ Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas F. Mann, eds., The Permanent Campaign 
and its Future (Washington: American Enterprise Institute, 2000).

  The permanent campaign is fought over political terrain as narrowly 
divided as any in American history. This has evident effects on the 
Speaker's role. Sam Rayburn used to say that it was never good to have 
more than 269 Democrats in the House.\31\ He felt that an extraordinary 
majority made it more difficult to pass bills because Members would feel 
more free to defect. Rayburn was certainly aware of the challenges posed 
by a very narrow majority as well, but the very narrowness of the 
majority may create an incentive for Members to support the leadership. 
Between 1931 and 1994, when the Democrats were in the majority for all 
but 4 years, their leaders often forged bipartisan coalitions, picking 
up some votes from moderate Republicans while tolerating defections from 
some conservative Democrats. With the House very narrowly divided, a 
small number of defectors can defeat a bill unless there are offsetting 
defections from the other side. The permanent campaign, however, offers 
an incentive for the minority to rally in opposition in order to create 
campaign issues. Furthermore, the homogenization of the parties has made 
it less likely that many Members of either party will have a natural 
inclination to vote with the other side. Since most Members are safe in 
their districts, many could, in principle, defect and survive. But the 
minority party leadership will go to extraordinary lengths to persuade 
Members to stand by the party position because it will enhance the 
prospect of winning control in the next election. That, at least, has 
been a discernible pattern for the Democrats since 1995.

\31\ I have this from Rayburn's long-time assistant, D.B. Hardeman. Of 
course, the Democrats already had all of the southern seats and so 
Members in excess of 269 would come from northern districts and increase 
liberal pressure on Rayburn.

  The result is that the Republicans have had to build majorities from 
within their own ranks. To do so, they have had to utilize all the tools 
available to a majority. These include agenda control (deciding what 
bills will come to the floor), legislative control (determining what 
those bills will contain), procedural control (determining the timing 
and rules under which bills will be considered), and membership control 
(efforts to ensure that bills can pass with Republican votes alone). As 
this pattern suggests, the first and most important strategic decisions 
address the nature and substance of legislation. It appears that these 
decisions are now made in substantial part based on political 
calculation. When, for example, the Democrats pushed for enactment of a 
prescription drug bill or a patients' bill of rights, the Republicans 
found it in their interest to offer counterproposals. In doing so, they 
searched for bills around which their Members could cohere. When the 
Republican majority pushed tax cuts, the Democrats sought alternatives 
that their Members could support. In this connection, the narrow 
majority can be a blessing, since it offers its own incentive for 
Members to vote with the party. The quid pro quo is often this: the 
leadership structures legislation and the legislative process to give 
Members bills they can support; the Members vote for the leadership 
proposals provided that their political needs are somewhere addressed. 
This is an old formula. With a narrow majority, however, it can lead to 
poor legislation.\32\

\32\ When the majority party has a substantial majority, it can pass 
legislation even when a number of party members defect due to district 
pressure. With a narrow majority the party leadership has to structure 
either the legislation, the legislative process, or both so as to bring 
aboard almost every member. It may, therefore, include provisions that 
it does not really want in the bill and thus legislation can become less 

  And that is the real disadvantage of a government as narrowly divided 
as this one is. In a parliamentary regime, with an expectation of party 
discipline, the governing party can shape legislation according to its 
principles even with a narrow majority. In a presidential system marked 
by the separation of powers, the majority party must often place 
political consideration above policy substance. The results can be 
diluted policy, policy incrementalism, symbolic framing of issues, and 
in many cases a failure to act altogether. In addition, the permanent 
campaign has affected the legislative milieu. Public discourse has been 
coarsened. Ad hominem attacks undermine reasoned debate. Comity, that 
ancient norm, has eroded. Fixing these problems is not easy to do, 
because both congressional Republicans and congressional Democrats are 
so closely tied to their party's base voters and major interest-group 
supporters that neither can easily break free. Believing themselves to 
be in the right, most Members may not even contemplate the need. But it 
is an obligation of the Speaker to remind Members on both sides of the 
aisle to do their duty.\33\

\33\ It is difficult for a Speaker to establish comity when he actively 
campaigns against incumbent Members of the opposite party. Democratic 
Speakers from Rayburn to Foley were very reluctant to do so, and in fact 
almost never did. This was due in part to the fact that they usually 
enjoyed safe margins in the House, and in part to the fact that the most 
vulnerable Republicans were precisely those who were most likely to vote 
with the Democrats on key votes. However, there was also a norm at play. 
The Speaker, as presiding officer, may choose not to campaign against a 
Member on whose motions he would have to rule. Republican Speakers 
Gingrich and Hastert both have campaigned against incumbent Democrats.

                      Personality and Party Culture

  This analysis of the contemporary speakership has sought to be 
generic, addressing trends and forces affecting all modern Speakers and 
both political parties. We must recognize, however, the great impact 
that personality and party culture have in shaping individual 
speakerships. These effects may seem idiosyncratic and thus beyond the 
reach of theory; but any attempt to build theory must at least take them 
into account. They are easy to demonstrate.
  Consider Democratic Speakers Carl Albert, Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright, and 
Tom Foley.\34\ All of these Speakers presided over the reformed House, 
and there are many similarities in the way that they did it. All sought 
to build legislative coalitions, foster more open and participatory 
intra-party processes, establish better media relations, promote more 
effective control over the floor, set a policy agenda, and so forth. We 
observe a steady evolution from Albert to Foley in which various 
leadership techniques are initiated and perfected. Yet any attempt to 
evaluate the performance of these Speakers would lead directly to an 
assessment of their respective personal characteristics and political 
personas. Albert was a dedicated institutionalist who preferred a more 
private and lower profile role as Speaker. Some felt that he would have 
been better served by a more aggressive posture, but he did not think 
that is what a Speaker should do. It is far from clear that a more 
assertive Speaker would have presided as effectively over the tumult of 
legislative reform, Watergate/impeachment, Vietnam, and civil rights as 
Albert did. O'Neill took to the public aspects of the speakership like a 
duck to water. He reveled in the limelight, filled the camera, and made 
himself into a political icon. Yet although he appeared more forceful, 
he was rarely more assertive than Albert had been. He was a strong 
supporter of the committee system and defended several senior committee 
chairs who were deposed by the caucus. One of O'Neill's greatest talents 
lay in the appearance of power. He was the master of what Jimmy Breslin 
called ``blue smoke and mirrors.'' \35\

\34\ In addition to their remarks published in this volume, these 
Speakers speak for themselves in Ronald M. Peters, Jr., ed., The Speaker 
(Washington: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1995).

\35\ Jimmy Breslin, How the Good Guys Finally Won (New York: Viking 
Press, 1975).

  Jim Wright enjoyed power and he wanted to drive the House toward his 
preferred policies. He rolled over Democratic committees, House 
Republicans and the Reagan White House in the 100th Congress, became 
involved on foreign policy matters respecting Nicaragua, and 
demonstrated the assertiveness that Tip O'Neill appeared to have but 
rarely used. Yet just for this reason, Wright made himself anathema to 
the Republicans, angered many Democrats, and caused some to regard him 
as a political liability. There is nothing in contemporary legislative 
theory that can explain Wright's assertiveness; it was simply the 
product of his character. Tom Foley proceeded differently, but not 
because the nature of the speakership required it of him. To be sure, 
Foley had been an operator in the Democratic regime for two decades, and 
had been a key negotiator for Speakers O'Neill and Wright. But when he 
became Speaker, this experience is not what defined his orientation 
toward the job. Foley had come to the House in 1964 and was the first 
Speaker never to have served with Sam Rayburn. But like Rayburn, he had 
a keen appreciation of the traditions and institutions of the House and 
he saw it as his role to defend them.
  The contrast between Speakers Gingrich and Hastert is evident. 
Gingrich saw himself as a great party leader, a modern Disraeli. He had 
been a college professor, and he loved to profess his views. He loved 
conflict and controversy, and where he could not find these at hand he 
often created them. Hastert is a former high school teacher and 
wrestling coach. He is experienced and talented in working with people 
face to face. He had been an ideal chief deputy whip, and in that 
capacity had developed strong personal relationships with Members. He 
was often the one to work out the deal to win a wavering Member's vote. 
When Speaker Gingrich sought to impose what was in effect a new 
institutional order on the House he was acting consistently with his 
values, beliefs, and personal ambitions. When Speaker Hastert sought to 
return the House to regular order, he was doing likewise. These two 
Speakers, both Republican, were as different from each other as their 
Democratic predecessors had differed from each other, and the 
differences defined their speakerships as much as any underlying 
similarities deriving from the institutional context in which they 
served, certainly as any biographer or historian would write about it.
  But the Democratic and Republican Speakers differed across party lines 
as well. Party culture is not easy to define.\36\ Institutional culture 
generally refers to a persistent pattern of attitudes and relationships 
giving definition to organizational behavior. It is undeniably the case 
that Republican speakerships have demonstrated a centralizing tendency 
while Democratic speakerships have characteristically been more 
decentralized. Institutional and party effects are interrelated. Thus, 
during the late 19th century when parties were strong, both Democratic 
and Republican Speakers were more powerful than those who served during 
the mid-20th century when the committees were ascendent. Still, 
Republican Speakers of the partisan era, such as James G. Blaine, Thomas 
Brackett Reed, and Joe Cannon were more powerful than their Democratic 
counterparts, such as Samuel Randall (PA), John Carlisle (KY), and 
Charles Crisp (GA); and during the era of committee dominance Joe Martin 
was on occasion more assertive than Sam Rayburn. As we compare the 
Democrats under Albert, O'Neill, Wright and Foley, with the Republicans 
under Gingrich and Hastert, it is plain that the GOP leadership is 
usually more forceful than the Democratic leadership. While all aspects 
of the speakership that Gingrich first created have not been sustained 
by the Republicans, others have. The Republican Speakers do not simply 
behave like their Democratic predecessors.

\36\ Jo Freeman, ``The Political Cultures of the Democratic and 
Republican Parties,'' Political Science Quarterly, vol. 101, no. 3, 
1986, pp. 327-356.


  Four forces shape the speakership today. The first is political 
context, now defined by the narrow division of power between the two 
major parties as sometimes affected by a division in partisan control of 
our nationally elective institutions. The second is institutional 
context: the post-reform House as substantially modified by the 
Republicans. The third is party culture, differentiating Democratic and 
Republican regimes. The fourth is the character and political persona of 
individual Speakers. We cannot now anticipate who might rise to the 
speakership in the future, or in what specific circumstances future 
Speakers will serve. The path to the speakership has usually been 
through the ranks of subordinate party leadership positions. The 
advantage of this farm system is that it brings to the speakership 
Members who are richly experienced in party leadership; its disadvantage 
can be that Speakers are so molded by their prior experience that they 
may find it hard to adapt to the changing circumstances in which they 
are called upon to lead.
  We may ask how might the speakership evolve if Republicans maintain 
control in the near future? Most observers have by now concluded that 
Newt Gingrich's parliamentary model is ill-suited to the American 
constitutional regime. Under Speaker Hastert, the Republicans have 
developed a more nuanced party apparatus in which the Speaker plays the 
pivotal, if not always the most visible role. The party machinery 
usually runs smoothly in the hands of the floor leader, whip, and other 
members of the leadership team. In challenging circumstances, the 
leadership is usually able to carry its bills on the floor. The 
committees now perform their traditional functions, although they do not 
function as autonomously from the leadership as had been the case with 
the Democrats. Underlying the Republicans' cohesiveness is the basic 
homogeneity of the Republican conference. This arises from similar 
constituencies and shared ideology.\37\ Their world view sometimes 
appears unleavened by conflicting voices from within their 
constituencies or from across the aisle. It is an essential principle of 
American democracy that representative institutions ``refine and enlarge 
the public view by passing it through the medium of their chosen 
representatives,'' as Madison put it in Federalist No. 10. This cannot 
occur if only some views are brought into consideration.

\37\ To be sure, there are fissures within the Republican conference 
arising from matters of policy, constituency, or even ideology. But 
these fissures, even though they may generate intense feelings, take 
place within a relatively narrow range compared to the historical 
diversity that has marked the Democratic Party.

  And what if the Democrats resume control? On the one hand, the party 
has learned lessons from its sojourn in the wilderness. They have had 
time to contemplate the causes of their defeat in 1994, the challenges 
they have faced in trying to regain it, and the methods by which the 
Republicans have solidified their narrow majority. The Democrats have 
been far more cohesive in the minority than they ever were in the 
majority. A future Democratic majority might be narrow, and arguably 
would require the same approach to intra-party coalition building that 
the Republicans have taken. A strong party leadership would be required. 
On the other hand, Democrats are not as cohesive as Republicans, 
reflecting the more diverse nature of their constituencies. A sufficient 
number of seasoned Democrats remains to give rebirth to a more 
autonomous committee structure. Democrats remember that the committee 
system is a source of power and influence that served them well for 60 
years in maintaining control of the House. It is a rare Democrat who 
will say that the party would retain term limits on committee chairs. 
Democrats might have more difficulty in maintaining cohesion than the 
Republicans have, and may be less willing to cede power to the central 
party leadership. That, at least, would be consistent with their 
historical practices and party culture.
  Whichever party is in power, the key to a successful speakership can 
be read in the historical record. Speakers must find a way to balance 
their institutional and partisan responsibilities. To create this 
balance, it is important that they exercise sufficient power to command 
the attention and respect of Members. At the same time, they must be 
perceived to be fair. It has proven most useful for Speakers to buffer 
their partisan role. Historically, there are two models though which 
this can be achieved, one centered in the committees and one centered in 
the party leadership apparatus. During the era of committee dominance, 
the power of the Speaker was mediated by that of the committee chairs. 
During the past 30 years, the power of the Speaker has meshed with an 
elaborated party leadership structure. Speakers who have sought to 
dominate the committees and the party leadership structure have not 
fared well. Speakers who have given the committees and the leadership 
structure some lead have been better able to fulfill their dual roles.
  The speakership will, in the years ahead, be more central to the House 
of Representatives than at any time since the turn of the 20th century. 
Speakers will be called upon to offer partisan leadership both within 
the Chamber and externally. They will broker deals, raise money, 
campaign for Members, define policy positions, and seek to enforce party 
discipline. And they must do this without losing sight of their 
constitutional role and responsibility. The speakership was created long 
ago in England, when the Commons selected one from among them to ``speak 
for the Commons'' in Parliament. The Speaker of the U.S. House of 
Representatives has the obligation to ``speak for the House'' as well. 
All of it.


                                Part III


          The offices of Speakers Hastert, Gingrich, Foley 
          and Wright, submitted their personal biographies 
          for publication in this document.
                            J. Dennis Hastert

  Dennis Hastert rose to his position as Speaker of the House from the 
cornfields of Illinois. Born in Aurora, he grew up in Oswego and earned 
degrees from Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University. After 16 
years of teaching and coaching at Yorkville High School, he served in 
the Illinois House of Representatives for 6 years before being elected 
to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986. In 1999, Hastert's 
colleagues honored him by electing him Speaker of the House, the third 
highest elected official in the U.S. Government.
  Speaker Hastert, who turned 62 on January 2, 2004, is now serving his 
third term as Speaker and his ninth term as the Republican Congressman 
for Illinois' 14th Congressional District. Hastert's home district 
comprises a suburban landscape of high tech firms, small and large 
industrial complexes and expansive farm land west of Chicago, which 
includes the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan. The 14th 
Congressional District reelected Hastert in 2002 with 74 percent of the 
overall vote.
  As Speaker, Hastert is responsible for the day-to-day functions of the 
U.S. House. When he succeeded Newt Gingrich on January 6, 1999, he broke 
with tradition by delivering his acceptance speech from the House floor 
and by allowing Minority Leader Dick Gephardt to briefly preside over 
the day's proceedings. These two actions served as fitting symbols for 
the content of the new Speaker's remarks, when he emphasized the need 
for both parties to come together in the House to get their work done:

  Solutions to problems cannot be found in a pool of bitterness. They 
can be found in an environment in which we trust one another's word; 
where we generate heat and passion, but where we recognize that each 
member is equally important to our overall mission of improving the life 
of the American people.

  Hastert outlined a four-part commonsense agenda that day for the 106th 
Congress--lowering taxes, improving education, strengthening Social 
Security and Medicare, and bolstering national defense. Under his 
leadership, the 106th Congress balanced the budget for the fourth year 
in a row; paid down a historic amount of public debt ($625 billion); 
locked away 100 percent of Social Security and Medicare dollars to be 
spent solely on Social Security and Medicare--not other government 
programs; sent more education dollars and decisionmaking to local 
classrooms; stepped-up and enhanced medical research; and worked to 
revitalize low-income neighborhoods in urban and rural areas. The agenda 
proved to be such a success that in November 2000, the American voters 
elected another Republican majority to the House.
  Throughout his legislative career, Speaker Hastert has drawn from his 
experience as a former wrestling coach by emphasizing teambuilding and 
setting clear-cut, achievable goals. The Speaker has since remained 
committed to the goals he laid out during his first term as Speaker and 
his accomplishments during the 107th Congress prove this.
  The 107th Congress was successful in enacting landmark education 
reform, far-reaching election reform, and completing work on the most 
significant tax relief in a generation. Furthermore, in response to the 
tragic attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, the Congress passed 
historic legislation by creating a Department of Homeland Security--the 
most significant restructuring of the Federal Government in the last 50 
years. With this new department, and with the passage of anti-terrorism 
legislation designed to mitigate the threat of terrorist activities, the 
President has the tools he needs to help ensure that the safety and 
security of our homeland will not be compromised again.
  On January 7, 2003, Hastert rose again to the challenge of continuing 
his role as Speaker of the House. During his opening speech of the 108th 
Congress, he laid out a commonsense plan that would make this Nation a 
safer and more secure place for all Americans. He vowed to the men and 
women in our armed services that they would receive continued 
congressional support in their fight against terrorists and the 
terrorist states that harbor them. Hastert also promised to work with 
Members on both sides of the aisle to pass an economic growth package 
that would create jobs, grow our economy and ensure more financial 
security for Americans. Furthermore, Hastert emphasized his commitment 
in promoting more foreign trade, passing a prescription drug package to 
make drugs more affordable for our Nation's seniors, and furthermore 
improving America's schools so that all children have the opportunity to 
get a good education.
  Prior to his election as Speaker in 1999, Hastert served as chief 
deputy majority whip, a leadership position he had held since the 
election of the 104th Congress in 1994. In that capacity, Hastert was 
responsible for advancing commonsense legislation to the House floor by 
working with Members, developing an achievable policy strategy, lining 
up support and counting Republican and Democrat votes to ensure passage. 
His reputation is one of reaching across the aisle to develop bipartisan 
  He also served as chairman of the House Government Reform and 
Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and 
Criminal Justice. Chairman Hastert had broad oversight for the 
Departments of State, Defense and Justice, as well as the Nation's war 
on drugs and the 2000 Census. As a member of the House Commerce 
Committee, Hastert had jurisdiction over energy policy, interstate and 
foreign commerce, broadcast and telecommunications policy, food, health 
and drug issues.
  Additionally, Hastert has been the House Republican point person on 
health care reform. He has chaired the Speaker's Steering Committee on 
Health and the Resource Group on Health, and he helped author the health 
care reform bill, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 
to expand coverage to the uninsured. In the 105th Congress, Hastert 
again was tapped by the House leadership to chair the House Working 
Group on Health Care Quality, which ultimately authored the Patient 
Protection Act. That legislation, which passed the House on July 24, 
1998, expanded Americans' choices and access to affordable, high-quality 
health care.
  During his years in Congress, Hastert championed legislation to 
balance the Federal budget, cut taxes and government waste and clean up 
the environment. For instance, he led the nationwide fight with U.S. 
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to repeal the unfair Social Security earnings 
limit that kept millions of senior citizens from working--a project 
finally accomplished during his speakership in the 106th Congress. He 
also has passed legislation to reduce big government regulations in 
areas such as trucking and telecommunications in order to increase 
competition and consumer choice. In addition, Hastert has fought to 
preserve safe groundwater standards by successfully working for the 
removal and proper disposal of 21 million cubic feet of low-level 
thorium waste in West Chicago, IL, and by blocking a proposed garbage 
dump that would threaten the Fox Valley's groundwater supply.
  Congressman Hastert has continued to build on his record of 
accomplishment for all his constituents. During the most recent 
Congress, he successfully supported a full-funding agreement with the 
U.S. Department of Transportation that will expand Metra train service 
in the 14th District. He secured dozens of Federal grants for district 
communities and organizations that will assist with everything from 
bolstering police services to protecting district farmland. Hastert also 
successfully sponsored legislation in 2002 to designate the Ronald 
Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon a National Historic Site. Signed by 
President George Bush on Reagan's 91st birthday, the legislation ensures 
that the property will be maintained as a living legacy to our 40th 
  Hastert enjoys strong editorial support from the newspapers in his 
district and has received the ``Outstanding Legislator'' award by 
numerous groups. He is particularly proud to have been named repeatedly 
a ``Friend of Agriculture,'' ``Guardian of Senior Rights,'' and to have 
won in each of his years in Congress the ``Golden Bulldog Award'' for 
fighting against waste in government.
  Prior to Congress, during the eighties, Hastert served three terms in 
the Illinois General Assembly, where he spearheaded legislation on child 
abuse prevention, property tax reform, educational excellence and 
economic development. While there, he also led an effort that resulted 
in the adoption of a new public utilities act, reforming the law to 
benefit Illinoisans.
  Hastert spent the first 16 years of his career as a government and 
history teacher at Yorkville High School, and it also was there that he 
met his wife, Jean, a fellow teacher. In addition to teaching, he 
coached football and wrestling and led the Yorkville High School Foxes 
to victory at the 1976 Illinois State Wrestling Championship; later that 
year, he was named Illinois Coach of the Year. Hastert, a former high 
school and college wrestler himself, was inducted as an Outstanding 
American into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, OK, in 
2000. In 2001, the United States Olympic Committee named him honorary 
vice president of the American Olympic movement.
  Born on January 2, 1942, Hastert is a 1964 graduate of Wheaton [IL] 
College where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics. He attended 
graduate school at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where he 
earned a master's degree in the philosophy of education in 1967. Hastert 
lives in Yorkville, IL, along the Fox River with his wife Jean. They 
have two grown sons, Ethan and Joshua. Whenever he can find free time, 
Hastert enjoys attending wrestling meets, going fishing, restoring 
vintage automobiles, and carving and painting duck decoys.
                              Newt Gingrich

  Newt Gingrich is well-known as the architect of the Contract with 
America that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing 
the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 
40 years. After he was elected Speaker, he disrupted the status quo by 
moving power out of Washington and back to the American people. Under 
his leadership, Congress passed welfare reform, passed the first 
balanced budget in a generation, and restored funding to strengthen our 
defense and intelligence capabilities, in addition to passing the first 
tax cuts in 16 years.
  But there is a lot more to Newt Gingrich than these remarkable 
achievements. As an author, Newt has published seven books including the 
bestsellers, Gettysburg, Contract with America and To Renew America. His 
most recent books are Grant Comes East, the second in a series of active 
history studies in the lessons of warfare based on a fictional account 
of the Civil War and Saving Lives & Saving Money, which demonstrates how 
to transform health and health care into a 21st century system.
  In his post-Speaker role, Newt has become one of the most highly 
sought-after public speakers, accepting invitations to speak before some 
of the most prestigious organizations in the world. Because of his own 
unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Newt is able to share unique and 
unparalleled insights on a wide range of topics. His audiences find him 
to be not only an educational but also an inspirational speaker.
  Widely recognized for his commitment to a better system of health for 
all Americans, his leadership helped save Medicare from bankruptcy, 
prompted FDA reform to help the seriously ill and initiated a new focus 
on research, prevention, and wellness. His contributions have been so 
great that the American Diabetes Association awarded him their highest 
non-medical award and the March of Dimes named him their 1995 Georgia 
Citizen of the Year. Today he serves as a board member of the Juvenile 
Diabetes Foundation.
  In his book, Saving Lives & Saving Money, Newt describes his vision of 
a 21st century system of health and health care that is centered on the 
individual, prevention focused, knowledge intense, and innovation rich. 
Moreover, he makes the case for a market-mediated system that will 
improve choice  and  quality  while  driving  down  costs. To foster 
such a modern health system that provides better outcomes at lower cost, 
Newt launched the Center for Health Transformation 
  Recognized internationally as an expert on world history, military 
issues, and international affairs, Newt serves as a member of the 
Defense Policy Board. Newt is the longest-serving teacher of the joint 
war fighting course for major generals. He also teaches officers from 
all five services as a distinguished visiting scholar and professor at 
the National Defense University. Newt serves on the Terrorism Task Force 
for the Council on Foreign Relations. He is an editorial board member of 
the Johns Hopkins University journal, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, and 
is an advisory board member of the Foundation for the Defense of 
  In 1999, Gingrich was appointed to the United States Commission on 
National Security/21st Century, the Hart/Rudman Commission, to examine 
our national security challenges as far out as 2025. The Commission's 
report is the most profound rethinking of defense strategy since 1947. 
The report concluded that the number one threat to the United States was 
the likelihood over the next 25 years of a weapon of mass destruction--
nuclear, chemical, and/or biological--being used against one or more 
major cities unless our defense and intelligence structures underwent a 
massive transformation. That report was published 6 months before 
September 11.
  Because of his work on the Commission, Newt Gingrich is credited with 
the idea contained in the report of a homeland security agency with a 
secretary to serve on the Cabinet level. President George W. Bush has 
since created the Department of Homeland Security.
  Newt Gingrich is CEO of the Gingrich Group, a communications and 
consulting firm that specializes in transformational change, with 
offices in Atlanta and Washington, DC. He serves as a senior fellow at 
the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC; a distinguished 
visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo 
Alto, CA; the honorary chairman of the NanoBusiness Alliance; and as an 
advisory board member for the Museum of the Rockies. Newt is also a news 
and political analyst for the Fox News Channel.
  Newt Gingrich is a leading advocate of increased Federal funding for 
basic science research. In 2001, he was the recipient of the Science 
Coalition's first Science Pioneer award, given to him for his 
outstanding contributions to educating the public about science and its 
benefits to society.
  A strong advocate of volunteerism, Gingrich has long championed the 
positive impact every individual can have on society. He has raised 
millions of dollars for charity, donating both time and money to a wide 
array of causes, including Habitat for Humanity, United Cerebral Palsy, 
the American Cancer Society, and ZooAtlanta. A former environmental 
studies professor, he is widely recognized for his commitment to the 
environment and to the advancement of a new, commonsense 
environmentalism. In 1998, the Georgia Wildlife Federation named him 
Legislative Conservationist of the Year.
  Newt was first elected to Congress in 1978 where he served the Sixth 
District of Georgia for 20 years. In 1995, he was elected Speaker of the 
U.S. House of Representatives where he served until 1999. The Washington 
Times has called him ``the indispensable leader'' and Time magazine, in 
naming him Man of the Year for 1995, said, ``Leaders make things 
possible. Exceptional leaders make them inevitable. Newt Gingrich 
belongs in the category of the exceptional.''
  His experiences as the son of a career soldier convinced him at an 
early age to dedicate his life to his country and to the protection of 
freedom. Realizing the importance of understanding the past in order to 
protect the future, he immersed himself in the study of history, 
receiving his bachelor's degree from Emory University and master's and 
doctorate in modern European history from Tulane University. Before his 
election to Congress, he taught history and environmental studies at 
West Georgia College for 8 years.
  He resides in Virginia with his wife, Callista. He has two daughters 
and two grandchildren.
                             Thomas S. Foley

  Ambassador Thomas S. Foley advises clients on matters of legal and 
corporate strategy. He is currently the chairman of the Trilateral 
  In addition to being a partner at Akin Gump, Ambassador Foley is also 
a senior advisor at AG Global Solutions, a joint venture of Akin Gump 
and First International Resources, Inc., focusing on strategic 
communications and problem-solving for corporations and sovereign 
governments, particularly in complex cross-border matters.
  Prior to rejoining the firm in 2001, Ambassador Foley served as the 
25th U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
  Before taking up his diplomatic post in November 1997, Ambassador 
Foley served as the 49th Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was 
elected to represent the State of Washington's Fifth Congressional 
District 15 times, serving his constituents for 30 years from January 
1965 to December 1994.
  Mr. Foley served as majority leader from 1987 until his election as 
Speaker on June 6, 1989. From 1981 to 1987 he served as majority whip, 
the number three position in the House leadership. He also was a 
chairman of both the House Democratic Caucus and the Democratic Study 
  During his years in Congress, Mr. Foley was a member of the Committee 
on Interior and Insular Affairs. He served as chairman of the Committee 
on Agriculture and the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
  As majority leader, Mr. Foley served on the Permanent Select Committee 
on Intelligence, the Committee on the Budget, the Select Committee to 
Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, and as chairman of the 
House Geneva Arms Talks Observer Team.
  In 1995, following his career in Congress, Ambassador Foley joined 
Akin Gump as a partner.
  Mr. Foley has served on a number of private and public boards of 
directors, including the Japan-America Society of Washington. He also 
served on the board of advisors for the Center for Strategic and 
International Studies and on the board of directors for the Center for 
National Policy. He was a member of the board of governors of the East-
West Center and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign 
Relations. Before his appointment as Ambassador, he served as chairman 
of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
  Mr. Foley is an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire. He 
has been awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic 
of Germany and also is a member of the French Legion of Honor. In 1996 
the Government of Japan conferred upon him the Grand Cordon of the Order 
of the Rising Sun, Paulowina Flowers, in recognition of his service to 
the U.S. House of Representatives and the important impact he had in 
facilitating harmonious U.S.-Japan relations and promoting understanding 
of Japan in the United States.
  Mr. Foley is a native of Spokane, WA, and a graduate of the University 
of Washington and its School of Law. He is a member of the District of 
Columbia Bar.
  Mr. Foley is married to the former Heather Strachan. They reside in 
Washington, DC, and Spokane, WA.
                          James C. Wright, Jr.

  The insights gained by Speaker Jim Wright in his long and tumultuous 
career can shed light on many of the problems we face in the world 
today. A Member of Congress for 34 years, Mr. Wright served with eight 
American Presidents. He was chosen by his colleagues as Speaker of the 
U.S. House of Representatives, the highest honor Members can bestow upon 
one of their number. He has met and come to know many heads of state 
including Mikhail Gorbachev and several of the current leaders of Middle 
Eastern nations.
  As majority leader, Mr. Wright helped President Carter achieve the 
historic peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. He was the principal 
advocate in Congress for an energy policy to reduce our Nation's 
dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
  As House Speaker, Mr. Wright presided over the historic 100th 
Congress, considered the most productive in a generation. Under his 
leadership, Congress passed landmark legislation on such major issues as 
shelter for the homeless, catastrophic medical assistance for the 
elderly, safer highways and bridges, quality education, clean water and 
affordable housing. That 100th Congress fashioned the beginnings of an 
effective war on drugs and passed the first major trade bill in 50 
  Jim Wright was born in Fort Worth, TX, a city he represented in 
Congress from 1955 through 1989. He completed public school in 10 years 
and was on his way to finishing college within 3 years when Pearl Harbor 
was attacked. Following enlistment in the Army Air Corps, Mr. Wright 
received his flyer's wings and a commission at 19. He flew combat 
missions in the South Pacific and was awarded the Distinguished Flying 
Cross and the Legion of Merit.
  After the war, Mr. Wright was elected to the Texas Legislature at 23. 
At 26, he became the youngest mayor in Texas when voters chose him to 
head their city government in Weatherford, his boyhood home.
  Elected to Congress at 31, he served 18 consecutive terms and authored 
major legislation in the fields of foreign affairs, economic 
development, water conservation, education, and energy. Mr. Wright 
received worldwide recognition for his efforts to bring peace to Central 
  Jim Wright served 10 years as majority leader before being sworn in as 
Speaker on January 6, 1987. He was reelected as Speaker in January 1989.
  A prolific writer, he has authored numerous books: You and Your 
Congressman, The Coming Water Famine, Of Swords and Plowshares, 
Reflections of a Public Man and Worth It All: My War for Peace. He has 
also written articles for major magazines and newspapers. His most 
recent book, Balance of Power: Congress and the Presidents from the Era 
of McCarthy to the Age of Gingrich, was published in May 1996 by Turner 
  Mr. Wright currently serves as senior political consultant to American 
Income Life Insurance Company. He writes a frequent newspaper column and 
occasionally appears on network television news programs. Speaker Wright 
has donated his papers and memorabilia to the Texas Christian University 
library in Fort Worth, TX. Archivists there are cataloging these pieces 
for reference and display. He is currently a distinguished lecturer at 
TCU where he teaches a course entitled, ``Congress and the Presidents.''
                         Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr.

  For Thomas P. ``Tip'' O'Neill, Jr., becoming Speaker of the House in 
1977 was the pinnacle of a lifetime of service in government and the 
Democratic Party. Born in a working class neighborhood in Cambridge, MA, 
in 1912, the son of a city councilman, he entered politics at 15, 
campaigning for fellow Irish Catholic Al Smith in the Presidential 
election of 1928. While still a senior at Boston College, O'Neill lost a 
bid for the Cambridge City Council.
  Tip O'Neill learned two great lessons from his first campaign. One 
lesson was learned on the last day of the campaign from his high school 
elocution and drama teacher, a neighbor who lived across the street from 
his residence. On that day, Mrs. Elizabeth O'Brien approached the 
aspiring politician and said ``Tom, I'm going to vote for you tomorrow 
even though you didn't ask me.'' O'Neill was puzzled as he had known 
Mrs. O'Brien for years and had done chores for her, cutting grass, 
raking leaves and shoveling snow. He told his neighbor that ``I didn't 
think I had to ask for your vote.'' She replied, ``Tom, let me tell you 
something: People like to be asked.'' The second bit of advice came a 
few days after the election from O'Neill's father, when he told Tip: 
``Let me tell you something that I learned years ago. All politics is 
local.'' During that first campaign, Tip took his neighborhood for 
granted and did not work hard enough in his ``own backyard.'' O'Neill 
took these lessons to heart. He would not hold his career aspirations 
over the interests of his constituents. The advice paid off. Beginning 
in 1936, when he was elected to the State House of Representatives, Tip 
never lost another election and he never took any vote for granted. Not 
forgetting the advice of Mrs. O'Brien, on every election he would ask 
his wife Millie for her vote. She would typically reply, ``Tom, I'll 
give you every consideration.''
  In 1937, O'Neill began his first year of public life as a 
Massachusetts State representative and was elected minority leader in 
  In 1948, U.S. Congressman John W. McCormack (Democratic Party whip and 
leader of the Massachusetts delegation) offered his support and 
encouraged O'Neill to campaign hard to make the Democratic Party the 
majority party in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the 
first time in a century. Their effort paid off as they captured 38 out 
of 40 GOP districts targeted by the Democratic strategy. The Democrats 
now held a majority of the seats, and O'Neill became the speaker of the 
Massachusetts House of Representatives.
  In 1952, by a 3,000-vote margin, O'Neill won the seat in Congress 
vacated by John F. Kennedy, who had been elected to the U.S. Senate.
  In Washington, under the tutelage of John McCormack, O'Neill learned 
the system and rose steadily through the party ranks.
  In 1955, he became a member of the House Rules Committee. In 1967 his 
principled opposition to the Vietnam war startled many in his working 
class district, as well as President Lyndon Johnson, but gained him 
support among younger House Democrats. In 1970, he was a co-sponsor of a 
reform bill that ended the practice of unrecorded voting in the House. 
Congressmen would now be accountable to their constituents for their 
actions. In 1971 he was named majority whip, then elected majority 
leader in 1972, a position he used to lead the fight against President 
Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. In 1974, O'Neill played a 
key role in managing the Nixon impeachment proceedings.
  In 1977, O'Neill became the Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and held the position until 1987. This was the longest continuous term 
of the speakership in the Nation's history. One of his most important 
actions was to open the House to live television coverage [C-SPAN] 
beginning in 1979. In the eighties, O'Neill spearheaded the Democrats' 
efforts to hold the excesses of the Reagan revolution in check and to 
prevent massive scalebacks of social programs for the Nation's aged and 
less advantaged citizens. The Speaker felt Reagan did not have a firm 
grasp on domestic affairs and once characterized the popular President 
as a ``Herbert Hoover with a smile.'' For these efforts, O'Neill was 
vilified as a ``tax and spend liberal'' by the Republicans, the 
conservative press and even some of his own constituents. By November 
1982, America was in the grips of the worst economic downturn since the 
Great Depression and Reagan's economic policies brought him the lowest 
approval rating of his Presidency. In leading the loyal opposition into 
Reagan's second term, O'Neill stayed true to the Democratic tradition he 
viewed almost as a religion (alongside his other faiths, Roman 
Catholicism and the Boston Red Sox). Also to the displeasure of the 
Reagan administration, O'Neill was horrified by the atrocities committed 
by Contra rebels in Nicaragua and sought to limit U.S. funding to these 
  After 10 years as Speaker, O'Neill retired in 1987, dividing his time 
between an apartment in Washington and a house on Cape Cod. ``He was the 
Congressman's Congressman,'' said longtime rival Senator Bob Dole when 
O'Neill died in 1994 at the age of 81. ``He loved politics and 
government because he saw [they] could make a difference in people's 
lives,'' remembered President Bill Clinton, ``and he loved people most 
of all.''
                     List of Conference Participants

  Jeff Biggs. Director, Congressional Fellowship Program, American 
Political Science Association. Former Press Secretary to Speaker Thomas 
S. Foley.
  James C. Billington. Librarian of Congress.
  David E. Bonior. Democratic Member of the House from Michigan (1977-
  Gary Copeland. Director, Carl Albert Congressional Studies and 
Research Center, University of Oklahoma.
  Mickey Edwards. Republican Member of the House from Oklahoma (1977-
  John A. Farrell. Washington Bureau Chief, Denver Post.
  Vic Fazio. Democratic Member of the House from California (1979-1999).
  Thomas S. Foley. Speaker of the House of Representatives (1989-1995). 
Democratic Member of the House from Washington (1965-1995).
  Bill Frenzel. Republican Member of the House from Minnesota (1971-
  Newt Gingrich. Speaker of the House of Representatives (1995-1999). 
Republican Member of the House from Georgia (1979-1999).
  J. Dennis Hastert. Speaker of the House of Representatives (1999-  ). 
Republican Member of the House from Illinois (1987-  ).
  Janet Hook. Chief Congressional Correspondent, Los Angeles Times.
  Gary Hymel. Former administrative assistant to Majority Leader Hale 
Boggs and Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr.
  Tom Loeffler. Republican Member of the House from Texas (1979-1987).
  Robert H. Michel. Republican Leader of the House (1981-1994). 
Republican Member of the House from Illinois (1957-1995).
  Daniel P. Mulhollan. Director, Congressional Research Service, Library 
of Congress.
  Walter J. Oleszek. Senior Specialist, Congressional Research Service.
  Leon E. Panetta. Democratic Member of the House from California (1977-
1993). OMB Director (1993-1994). White House Chief of Staff to President 
William Clinton (1994-1997).
  Robert V. Remini. Professor of History; Kluge Scholar, Library of 
  Dan Rostenkowski. Democratic Member of the House from Illinois (1959-
  Robert S. Walker. Republican Member of the House from Pennsylvania 
  Donald Wolfensberger. Director, The Congress Project, Woodrow Wilson 
International Center for Scholars. Former staff director of the House 
Rules Committee (1995-1997).
  James C. Wright, Jr. Speaker of the House of Representatives (1987-
1989). Democratic Member of the House from Texas (1955-1989).