Opening Day – 104th Congress – January 4, 1995 – National Public Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Opening Day of the 104th Congress, this day in 1995. Odd, looking back in retrospect, how this may have been the pinnacle of civility on Capitol Hill. Strange we have gone so low so fast.
But on this day in 1995, the majority Republican Congress, a product of the 1994 mid-term elections and something of a nostalgic echo to the days of the Reagan years. And even this honeymoon wasn’t going to last all that long in retrospect.
Both chambers had Republican majorities for the first time since the 83rd Congress in 1953. Major events included passage of elements of the Contract with America and a budget impasse between Congress and the Clinton administration that resulted in the federal government shutdown of 1995 and 1996.
Speaker Of The House Gingrich: “This is a historic moment. I was asked over and over, how did it feel, and the only word thats [sic] comes close to adequate is “overwhelming.” I feel overwhelmed in every way, overwhelmed by all the Georgians who came up, overwhelmed by my extended family that is here, overwhelmed by the historic moment. I walked out and stood on the balcony just outside the Speaker’s office, looking down the Mall this morning, very early. And I was just overwhelmed by the view, which two men I’ve introduced and know very, very well. Just the sense of being part of America, being part of this — this great tradition.
I have two gavels, actually. Dick happened to use one that — maybe this was appropriate. This is a Georgia gavel I just got this morning, done by Dorsey Newman of Tallapoosa, who decided that the gavels he saw on TV weren’t big enough or strong enough, so he cut down a walnut tree in his backyard, made a gavel, put a commemorative item [on it] and sent it up here. So this is a genuine Georgia gavel. I’m the first Georgia Speaker in over a hundred years. The last one, by the way, had a weird accent, too. Speaker Crisp was born in Britain. His parents were actors and they came to the U.S. — a good word, by the way, for the value we get from immigration.
And secondly, this is the gavel that Speaker Martin used. Now I’m not sure what it says about the inflation of Government, if you put them side by side, but this was the gavel used by the last Republican Speaker. And — And I want to comment for a minute on two men who served as my leader, and from whom I learned so much and who are here today.
Here is the entire opening day ceremony and address by House Majority Newt Gingrich on January 4th 1995.
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