Post Election Update
November 12, 1996
Clinton Wins Second TermAs expected, President Bill Clinton was victorious in his bid for re-election as president of the United States. The victory was decisive, with Clinton getting a majority of the electoral vote, but the President garnered barely half of the popular vote, or 49 percent. Bob Dole won 41 percent of the popular vote, while Ross Perot managed eight percent. Voter turnout for this election was surprisingly low, less than half the eligible voting age population bothered to vote. President Clinton has identified balancing the federal budget as his high priority for his second term, an effort that could threaten the quality of the Medicaid and Medicare programs and require cuts in domestic discretionary programs, including AIDS programs. While AIDS remains a priority issue for this Administration, the President's leverage in facilitating progressive policy action on AIDS and other issues could be greatly diminished by his own commitment to a balanced budget and the political difficulties awaiting him in the form of the ethical charges against his administration from the republican-controlled 105th Congress.
GOP Retains Control of CongressThe Senate: 55 Republicans, 45 Democrats
The Republican party maintains control of both houses of Congress. The GOP advantage increased in the Senate by two seats. The Senate is likely to be more conservative in the 105th Congress, as several of the new democrats lean toward the party's right wing, and several very conservative republicans are replacing more moderate predecessors. Notably, two new republican senators, Sam Brownback (R-KS) who replaces Bob Dole, and Jeffrey Sessions (R-AL) who replaces democrat Howell Heflin, come from the right wing of the Republican party and have strong affiliations with the Christian Right. In addition, the outspoken anti-AIDS Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, was re-elected.
The loss in the Senate of moderates Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS), former chair of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee and Mark Hatfield (R-OR), former chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee is significant. The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee has jurisdiction over the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, HRSA programs, CDC programs, and federal substance abuse and public health programs. Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT) may assume the chairmanship of this committee, which may be a positive change since he is more progressive than Kassebaum and very supportive on most AIDS issues. The likely replacement for Hatfield as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee is Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK). While Senator Stevens is not overtly hostile to AIDS programs, he has not shown great interest in health or social issues during his career. In addition, there are two open seats on the Senate Appropriations Committee -- one democratic and one republican. Senators William Roth (R-DE) and Pat Moynihan (D-NY) will likely continue to serve as chair and ranking member respectively of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over Medicaid, Medicare, and taxes.
The House of Representatives: 225 Republicans, 206 Democrats, 1 Independent
Republicans maintained their majority, but lost about ten seats. The breakdown of the 104th Congress included 235 republicans, 198 democrats, and one independent [Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who generally votes with the democrats]. The 105th Congress (as of this alert) will have 225 republicans, 206 democrats, and one independent (Rep. Sanders). Four races are still undecided. One is California's 46th district, between Rep. Robert Dornan (R-CA) and democratic challenger Loretta Sanchez. Rep. Dornan, the outspoken sponsor of numerous anti-gay and anti-AIDS amendments is leading by a little over 200 votes as of this writing. The outcome of this race may be decided later this week. The three other undecided House races are in Texas (districts 8,9, 25) and will be decided in a December 10th runoff. Overall it appears that the House will be slightly more moderate this session given the loss of ten republican seats. However, the House leadership will still be controlled by the right wing of the Republican party.
It does not appear that there will be any changes in the leadership of key committees that deal with AIDS issues. Representatives Bob Livingston (R-LA), John Porter (R-IL), and Jerry Lewis (R-CA) will continue their leadership posts on the House Appropriations Committee/subcommittees. Representatives Tom Bliley (R-VA), Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), and Rick Lazio (R-NY) also retain their leadership positions on key authorizing committees. There are, however, ten open seats on the full House Appropriations Committee, including one republican and one democratic on the VA-HUD Subcommittee. There are also several openings on the Commerce Committee, including one republican and two democratic seats on the Health and Environment Subcommittee.
AIDS ACTION: If you are familiar with any of the new members of the 105th Congress, especially where they stand on AIDS issues, please contact Anthony Rios at extension 3067 or fax your written information to us at 202-986-1345.
New Members of the 105th Congress(as of November 12, 1996. Outcome of some races may change.)
AL: Jeff Sessions (R)
House of Representatives:
AL: Robert Aderholt (R-4); Bob Riley (R-3)
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.