FROM THE ARCHIVES: 106th Congress Opens for Business: Impeachment Dominates Early Agenda (January 11, 1999)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news.

On January 6th, the 106th Congress commenced. The following day the Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. The House, which ended the 105th Congress by impeaching the President in a bitter partisan debate and votes, chose a new Speaker who promised cooperation and a Democratic leader who talked of “burying the hatchet.” Bill Clinton is the first United States President impeached since Andrew Johnson in 1868. Yet, he retains the support of the American people with poll numbers indicating around 70 percent approve of his stewardship of the presidency. Welcome to 1999 in Washington.

Despite the historic events surrounding the impeachment trial, routines continue. The President’s Fiscal Year 2000 budget is currently scheduled for release on February 1 and another year of debating federal spending priorities will begin. Those debates will take place in the context of additional projected budget surpluses and a determination to “save Social Security.” It will take place with so-called “spending caps” still in place that will continue to squeeze discretionary spending. Although Congress demonstrated last year that where there is a will to break the caps, there is a way. As always, leaks have indicated some of the President’s funding priorities: increased defense spending, more dollars for after school programs. A new major initiative in information technology is also expected, which should provide the National Science Foundation some new money. […]

The new Speaker has vowed that the House will pass all 13 appropriations bills by the summer, or “it will not leave town” for the traditional August recess. The Senate is too busy right now with impeachment to worry about enacting appropriations bills on time. Whether the bills pass Congress and are signed by the President before Fiscal Year 2000 begins on October 1, 1999, may depend on how many controversial non-spending policy riders are in the legislation.

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