The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 67.0°F | A Few Clouds

News briefs

New Congress May Come In Like a Lamb

Newsday

With 110 new House members, and at least 11 new senators, the Congress that convenes in January will be a very different body than the one that left in October. Established Democratic leaders, and the new Democratic president, will be faced with urgent and uncomfortable demands that Congress clean up its own house by ending the gridlock that has paralyzed all attempts to deal with the nation's persistent economic problems.

But these newcomers could turn out to be bridge-builders, rather than bomb-throwers. Many have gained experience serving in lower elective office and indicate a strong desire to end the bitter partisan wrangling that has marked the Bush years. Practically every new lawmaker is coming to town with the same priority -- fix the economy -- but they differ on emphasis. Democrats stress enacting a jobs program while Republicans focus on deficit reduction, and reconciling these two aims will be a major task for the leaders.

As there is little money available to make a real impact on the debt, President-elect Bill Clinton and his Capitol Hill lieutenants will have to rely on symbolism. So expect pressures to rise behind two constitutional changes: one requiring a balanced budget every year, the other giving the president a line-item veto. Moreover, many challengers ran on a platform of term limits for congressmen, but that idea might look less appealing once these outsiders get to Washington and become incumbents.

The new lawmakers will also be demanding changes in the way Congress does business: fewer perks, more streamlined scheduling, less reliance on fat-cat contributions to finance campaigns. Democratic leaders have already moved to end some of the worst abuses, such as closing the scandal-tainted House bank, charging fees for medical care, appointing a non-partisan administrator to handle financial affairs.

The new Congress will be far more representative of the American people -- more women, more blacks, more Hispanics. Clinton will try to make some early and visible gestures to these groups, such as signing a parental-leave bill, lifting the gag rule barring abortion counseling at family planning clinics and appointing women and minorities to vacant judgeships. But the economy has to remain the focus of the new administration.

Clinton Will Be Able to Name More Than 100 Federal Judges

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

President-elect Bill Clinton will immediately be able to name more than 100 federal judges when he takes office, and he could have an enormous opportunity to put a Democratic imprint on a judiciary now dominated by Reagan-Bush appointees.

He comes to office presented with more than three times the number of court vacancies that faced Ronald Reagan and George Bush when they took office. Based on average numbers of judicial resignations, Clinton could end up naming between one-fourth and one-third of all 846 life-tenured federal judges.

Most attention has been on the Supreme Court, where Clinton will almost surely become the first Democrat in 25 years to appoint a justice, since Lyndon B. Johnson named now-retired Thurgood Marshall.

Clinton, a lawyer who is married to a lawyer and who has spent time in legal circles since his days at Yale Law School, is likely to have more direct contact with the nominations process than his predecessors.

During the past 30 years, two other lawyers, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, became president. But Clinton would be the first president in this century to have served as a state attorney general, and he also taught constitutional and antitrust law at the University of Arkansas Law School.

Overall, the Clinton presidency is likely to mean more women and minorities on all courts, a greater emphasis on credentials and a deliberate reversal of the present conservative dominance. (Judges named by Ronald Reagan and George Bush make up about 65 percent of the lower courts. They also appointed five of the nine Supreme Court justices and promoted William H. Rehnquist to chief.)

Clinton also has said he would select only people who "believe in the Bill of Rights including the constitutional right to privacy and the right to choose" abortion.

Yet, it is not clear how the broad themes from campaign speeches and evident in Arkansas appointments will translate into individual nominations.

Another uncertainty, given the huge stable of potential Democratic appointees, is with which factions of the Democratic Party Clinton's choices will be aligned.

Weather

Clearing and Cold

By Yeh-Kai Tung
Staff Meteorologist

A strong frontal system will pass through here today. Skies will clear and the air will become noticeably drier and colder. Clear and cold weather looks to be on tap for the weekend.

Today: Rain ending by noon. Clearing skies and dropping temperatures in the afternoon. High 54F (12C). Cold northwest wind 12-17 mph (20-28 kph).

Tonight: Clear and cold. Low 33F (1C). Continued northwest wind 12-17 mph (20-28 kph).

Saturday: Sunny and cold. High 43F (6C). Low 32F (0C).

Sunday: Clear and cold. High 44F (7C).