Charge of Gingrich's cavalry fizzles out

Newt Gingrich has led the charge of his Republican cavalry through the US House of Representatives with heroic energy, making good on his promise to launch the "Contract with America'' - his manifesto for revolution - within the first 100 days of the 1995 Congress.

And yet, according to polls, the House Speaker's popularity has nosedived, the public remains as cynical about Congress as ever and half of the electorate do not even know what the Contract is. The Senate minority leader, Thomas Daschle, said the Republicans' performance reminded him of a remark by a South Dakota Indian chief in his native state: "Much thunder; no rain."

Mr Gingrich promised that the House of Representatives, under Republican control for the first time in 40 years, would vote on the 10 items of legislation in the Contract by the end of the first congressional session, which is due to end on Friday, six days short of the 100-day mark. With one item left - a tax-cutting bill - it seems the Speaker will live up to his word.

His immediate problem is that his troops, for whom working till midnight has become routine, are becoming mutinous. More than 100 members of the House have signalled unwillingness to approve the Contract's tax-cutting proposals as they now stand, arguing that they would undermine the broader Republican objective - elevated by Mr Gingrich to an article of faith - of balancing the budget by 2002. "We're still arguing," Mr Gingrich said on Sunday, "and I'm not sure we'll get a compromise."

While the betting yesterday was that Mr Gingrich would succeed in bulldozing this week's vote through, Senator Daschle's point - "Where's the rain?" - might make some Republicans pause and ponder what exactly they have achieved, even as they preen themselves before the television cameras at an end-of-term party they plan to hold in Congress on Friday.

Of the nine Contract items to have been through the House, only two have become law: a bill subjecting Congress to the same laws as other Americans and one curbing the congressional practice of imposing mandates on the state governments without providing necessary funds.

Of the other seven bills, one imposing 12-year-limits on congressional tenure was defeated by the House itself; one seeking legally to enforce a balanced budget was thrown out by the Senate; and the others are still before the Senate, whose approval they require before President Bill Clinton decides whether to exercise his right to a veto or sign them into law.

For all the zeal in the House, therefore, the chances that, for example, the welfare-reform bill will make it through the Senate without serious amendment are almost as remote as the notion that President Clinton would ever be persuaded to approve it.

Last week a poll in USA Today indicated that 61 per cent of Americans disapproved of the way Congress was doing its job; 64 per cent believed the congressional Republicans were embarked not on real change but on "politics as usual'' and, while 32 per cent favoured the Contract, 9 per cent had no opinion and 47 per cent had never heard of it. Other polls, conducted in various parts of the country in the past month, have consistently suggested that more people view Mr Gingrich negatively rather than positively.

All of which has led a number of American commentators to the conclusion that the Second American Revolution, as Mr Gingrich calls it, has occurred in the House of Representatives but not in the Senate, nor in the White House nor beyond the Washington Beltway (ring-road), in the rest of the United States.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum