FROM Speaker Newt Gingrich's press conference:Q. In the...

salmagundi

March 06, 1995

FROM Speaker Newt Gingrich's press conference:

Q. In the next 40 days, what's the toughest nut to crack on the Contract?

A. That's a [laughs] -- that's a very good question. I think there are two very hard issues facing us for very different reasons. I think term limits is frankly very hard for the reason we're seeing in the Senate right now with the Balanced Budget Amendment, and that is when you're talking about a constitutional amendment, you are just talking about a very big hurdle to get to 290 votes. . .

I think -- you know, we have a chance to get a very strong vote, but I, I know there's one headline -- I think it's in Roll Call -- that says that it's 60 votes short of the 290. Well, that -- you know, that's enough votes to pass a normal bill, but it gets you nothing on constitutional amendments, so I think term limits, frankly, is going to be a very hard slog.

We will have the first vote ever held on term limits, and if you go back and look at the process by which the direct election of U.S. senators occurred -- and I think this is a very similar process. I think that's the correct parallel, because in that process, as the states began to demand the direct election of U.S. senators -- who, you'll remember, used to be elected by the state legislatures -- this was a fight over who had power, and it took a long time, but over about a 20-year period, the states gradually convinced the U.S. Congress to -- to change the way in which we elect senators, so we now elect them directly.

So one, the hardest one is term limits, because of the size of the mountain you're trying to climb.

The, the biggest fight, I believe, without any question, is going to be litigation reform. It's my impression that the trial lawyers have already put up something like $6 million. They've said publicly, I believe, they're going to try to raise 20. You're going to see advertising. You're going to see every art that the trial lawyers have learned in manipulating juries put to work now trying to defeat litigation reform.

And that'll be a very big fight, although frankly the opening votes in the two committees have been so strong that the bill is stronger than I thought it would be. I thought we'd win, but I think we may win by a bigger margin. But I think that fight is going to take a number of days and is going to be probably the most heated debate.

And then I guess you'd have to list welfare reform as third. Our effort to return a great deal of the decision-making to the states and our analysis that the federal government control of welfare has been a failure, that the objective results you see on the local evening news is so horrendous that most reasonable people can agree that we're just -- we're cheating the children of this country to keep the current system -- is obviously going to be deeply, bitterly contested by liberals who favor a centralized, Washington-based system.

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