The Friday Faxline (Issue 482, November 10, 2006)
Democrats make big gains in Congress
On Tuesday, voters gave control of both the House and Senate to the Democrats. In the sweeping victory, not a single Democrat incumbent lost his or her reelection bid. In the coming weeks and months, there is sure to be endless analysis of why Republicans lost on Tuesday. I personally believe that our party in Congress has strayed too far from the Republican values that originally swept us into power in 1994, and we are now reaping the consequences. We have also gone too long without a prominent leader who is willing and able to clearly articulate what we stand for as a party and why our vision for America is the right vision. But regardless of why Republicans lost their Congressional majority, one thing remains the same: American faces major challenges both now and in the future, and lawmakers of both parties have a duty to address these challenges as we move forward.
New Congress must now pick new leaders
When the 110th Congress convenes in January, new leaders will likely hold the top posts in the House. With Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) announcing he does not intend to run for a leadership post, the top Republican positions are largely up for grabs. So far, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the current Majority Leader, and Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), a leading House conservative, have announced their intention to run for the Minority Leader post. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the current Majority Whip, and Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ), another staunch House conservative, have announced that they intend to seek the Minority Whip position. The entire Republican Conference will convene to vote on the new slate of leaders as early as November 15. On the Democrat side, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is almost certain to be elected Speaker, and Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and John Murtha (D-PA) are expected to compete for Majority Leader.
Santorum comes up short in bid for reelection
Though Sen. Rick Santorum has long had the reputation as an exceptional closer in tight races, his efforts Tuesday to secure a third Senate term ultimately came up short. This was a sad defeat for those of us who value Rick Santorum's friendship and admire his record as an unwavering advocate for limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional American values. His leadership on Capitol Hill will be sorely missed, and I wish him and his family all the best as they move on to whatever life has for them next. I congratulate Senator-elect Bob Casey (D) on a hard-fought win, and I hope to be able to work together with him in the future for the best interest of our Pennsylvania constituents.
Bush announces new Defense Secretary nominee
On Wednesday, President Bush announced Dr. Robert M. Gates as his choice to be the next Secretary of Defense, replacing the long-serving Donald Rumsfeld. Dr. Gates has a wealth of experience for the job, and has been well-received by people on both sides of the political aisle. His résumé includes service in the military as an Air Force officer, as well as nine years on the National Security Council. Gates also served as CIA director in the early 1990s. He is a Member of the James Baker-led Iraq Study Group, and has a keen understanding of the current situation in the Middle East region. He is highly qualified for the post, and I'm hopeful he will be confirmed by the Senate.
Quote of the Week
"And in my first act of bipartisan outreach since the election, I shared with her the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help her pick out the new drapes in her new offices."
-President George W. Bush, joking about his first conversation with incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)