January 7, 1997 – Another busy January on Capitol Hill. The day started with a pending vote on a second term as House Speaker for Newt Gingrich. He made his case, now it was waiting for the verdict from his peers. Republican leaders insisted Gingrich would be elected for a second term as Speaker, but it was feared the vote wasn’t going to be unanimous. At issue was a series of Ethics violations to which Gingrich admitted to. A hearing to determine punishment over those violations was slated to be held the following day, and should Gingrich win the vote as Speaker, the punishment for those violations could badly damage his effectiveness to hold the position. In retaliation, House Republicans were stepping up their comparisons between the Gingrich matter and that of Democrat Richard Gephardt, whose Ethics probe was eventually dismissed.
In other news – The Supreme Court was preparing to ponder the question; “Do women have a Constitutional right to be protected from Sexual Assault?” A case regarding sexual assault charges leveled at former Tennessee Judge David Lanier by eight women who accused him was now before the Supreme Court. Lanier, who was serving a 25 year sentence was freed after only serving a short period. The Federal Appeals court ruled there was no constitutional right to be free of sexual assault. Women’s groups and The Justice Department cried foul and were asking the Supreme Court to send Lanier back to prison. They were also worried the century-old law used to punish those who abused their power has lost some of its luster.
A Presidential Commission was criticizing the Pentagon for the way it went about investigating the mystery illness known as Gulf War Syndrome. Calling their report “superficial” the Commission filed its own report where it labeled the Pentagon findings inept and did not seek to get to the bottom of the Gulf War illness. The most prominent theory was that U.S. troops were exposed to Iraqi chemical weapons. But the commission also noted that Chemical weapons alone could not explain all the illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans. The search for possible causes was to continue.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, this January 7, 1997 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.