John Boehner became the Speaker of the House earlier this month, succeeding Nancy Pelosi. The new Republican majority in the House is the largest in sixty years and ensures that Mr. Boehner will be able to pass legislation that he favors during the next two years.
Unfortunately for Mr. Boehner and the GOP majority in the House, the President and the Democratic majority in the Senate are in a position to block many of the initiatives of the House. This may lead to two years of gridlock and the threat of a government shutdown over the issue of increasing the debt ceiling of the U.S. government.
President Obama was elected in 2008 with a Democratic Congress and a promise to change the policies that caused the Great Recession of 2007-09, which he inherited from George W. Bush. With slow progress and under seemingly relentless attack by the GOP, the election of 2010 brought more Republicans into power to challenge the President.
A political scenario eerily similar to current one occurred in 1992 with the election of President Clinton and a Democratic Congress. They promised change and an end to the recession inherited from former President George H. W. Bush. In that election, the Democratic Party nominated Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton to run against Republican incumbent President George H.W. Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot. Clinton triumphed over Bush.
President Clinton entered office with a domestic policy agenda that implemented the family leave bill, deficit-reduction bill, and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals serving in our armed service. In 1994, the Republican Party gained control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich led an attack against Clinton and the Democratic Party with the promise of tax cuts, budget cuts, and Medicare reform as part of the party’s “Contract with America.” Clinton used his power of veto to prevent all but five of the proposed bills in the contract from becoming law.
At the end of 1995, Congress and the president reached a standoff when neither side could agree on ways to balance the budget and address crippling deficits. The impasse resulted in government shutdowns that closed all government offices, except for the most vital departments.
Ultimately, the shutdowns resulted in a loss of confidence in the Republicans and Speaker Gingrich and a surge in the popularity of President Clinton. However, throughout Clinton’s terms in office, animosity between the Republican and Democratic parties grew to the point that it greatly impacted even the day-to-day operations of the government.
Learning Activity – U.S. History in Context
Assign students to write a report of at least 150 words or a presentation of at least seven slides (see links to ProQuest models below) that cites at least three resources.
Students should use the pathfinder listed below to save time and ensure relevance of results. They should also address the following essential questions for critical thinking (you can create or substitute others):
- How were the circumstances of the Presidential elections of 1992 and 2008 similar?
- How were the circumstances of the Presidential elections of 1992 and 2008 different?
- How were the circumstances of the Congressional elections of 1994 and 2010 similar?
- How were circumstances of the Congressional elections of 1994 and 2010 different?
- What were the major accomplishments of the Clinton Presidency?
Search for clinton and republicans