103rd Congress

Party Division and Political Leaders

During the 103rd session of Congress, Democrats were the party in the majority. The breakdown in the Senate was 57 seats to the majority party, Democrats, 43 seats to the minority party, Republicans, and o seats to other parties for a total of 100 seats. Therefore, the 57% of the Senate represents the majority party and 43% is for the minority party. However, after the June 5th, 1993 election of Kay B. Hutchison the party division in the Senate changed to 56 Democrats then with 56% and 44 Republicans with 44%. The majority and minority party breakdown in the House of Representatives was similar to the Senate because of its higher representation of Democrats. The 103rd Congress in the House saw 258 Democrats as the majority party, 176 Republicans as the minority party and 1 seat was Independent. Thus, 59.3% were in the majority party, 40.5% in the minority, and about .2% was Independent.
Both majority and minority parties had member of Congress that stood out as leaders. The Democratic President of the Senate who was also the Vice President was Albert A. Gore Jr., the President Pro Tempore was Robert C. Byrd, the majority party leader was George J. Mitchell for the Democrats, the minority party leader was Robert Dole for the Republicans, the majority whip was Wendell H. Ford, and the minority whip was Alan K. Simpson. As an interesting note at the end of the 103rd Congress George J. Mitchell, majority leader, retired from the Senate. Leaders in the House of Representatives included the Democratic Speaker of the House, Thomas S. Foley, the House majority leader Richard A. Gephardt a Democrat, the House minority leader, Robert H. Michel a Republican, the House majority whip, David E. Bonior a Democrat, and the House minority whip, Newt Gingrich a Republican.

Thomas S. Foley; Speaker of the House

Table of Amendments and Major Legislation:
Title of Amendment
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
Labor law allowing employees to take job-protected paid leave due to serious health condition causing inability to perform work, care for sick family member, or new child.
National Voter Registration Act of 1993
Encourages greater access to voter registration for citizens needing further assistance in voting registration.
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993
A deficit reduction act dealing with taxes.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
Preventing laws which burden a person’s free exercise of their religion.
Brandy Handgun Prevention Act of 1993
Institutes federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the U.S.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)
Policy banning openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from serving in the U.S. armed forces.
North American Free Trade Agreement

Agreement signed by governments of U.S., Mexico, and Canada to form a trilateral trade bloc in North America.
Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of
1994 (FACE)

Prohibits physical obstruction to: any individual receiving reproductive health services (abortions), any individual exercising right of religious freedom, or abortion clinics/place of worship.
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement
Act of 1994

Crime bill providing for $6.1 billion in funding prevention programs, 200,000 new police officers, and $9.7 billion in funding for prisons.
Community Development Banking and
Financial Institutions Act of 1994

Funds which promote community develop and economic revitalization through investments.

Highlights, Criticisms, and Pitfalls of the Congressional Session:
-Worst Environmental Record of any Congress in the history of U.S government
-When a national survey was released regarding how many people believed the 103rd Congress was not effective, 61 % said yes
-In November of 1994, a referendum was released regarding the need for a balanced budget amendment so American citizens are able to express their opinions on certain issues
-There was a general consensus, post-103rd Congress, that American citizens should be able to be more involved in the U.S. government issues than previously experienced

-At the time, the 103rd Congress proved to have women who were most likely to vote for women’s interests over men in Congress

Characteristics of 103rd Congress:
The Democratic Party was the majority both in the House of Representatives and the Senate during the 103rd Congressional session. This session of Congress was the first in 16 years with a Democratic president and Congress. Although Democrats were in the majority they were not a strong majority, there was division among House Democrats, and their popularity was questioned at times. Due to this it proved a challenge getting a solid majority to approve bills in the Congress. For instance, the passing of President Clinton’s budget in the House barley passed with a vote of 218 to 216. Foley, the Speaker of the House, at times would find himself in opposing opinions of the majority leader and majority whip. The second session of the 103rd Congress came upon more trouble than the first. President Clinton found it hard to receive support for his top priorities of health care reform, campaign finance reform, and an anti-crime bill. Clinton also ran into trouble with Congress in the event of sending troops to Somalia. In the end, Congress pressured Clinton into withdrawing the U.S. troops before any of their goals for a new Somali state were close to complete. As for the Supreme Court, Congress found its chance to oppose that branch of government as well. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed by Congress overturned a Supreme Court decision that gave state and local legislatures or regulatory bodies control over religious practices. All in all the 103rd Congress was less productive then hoped for. The blame for this outcome has been laid on an overly ambitious Clinton agenda, 28 filibusters (political delaying tactics) in the Senate, bloc voting by Republicans in the House of Representatives, and Foley, the Speaker of the House, bore a significant part of the blame.

Description of Era during 103rd Congress and how Congress Impacted It:

During the years ’93 and ’94, the 103rd Congress had many conflicts going on within the international relation department and was one of the biggest issues for the U.S. government, which caused several positive and negative events to occur. Some of these events included Israel and PLO Sign Peace Accord, explosion at the World Trade Center in New York, Iraq is bombed again for not agreeing to dismantle their nuclear weapon production, warships to Haiti, Pablo Escobar is shot down in Columbia, Black Hawk Down, and North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) was signed.