Posted BY: William R. Hawkins
I was serving on the staff of the Republican Research Committee, part of the GOP House leadership structure in 1994 when the party won control in the midterm elections during Democratic President Bill Clinton’s first term. I continued to serve on Capitol Hill for the next five years before leaving to work for conservative think tanks. The Republicans lost control of the House in 2006, foretelling their loss of the White House in 2008, but won the House back in the 2010 midterms. I returned to Capitol Hill with the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) as the party rebuilt its staff. All members have the same office budgets regardless of party. The key is the control of the committees that set the agenda, draft major legislation, and hold hearings. The majority party has double the committee staff positions versus the minority party, meaning the capacity to get work done is more substantial than the mere balance of seats.
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There is plenty of work to do, as a fundamental role of the Legislative branch is to exercise oversight of the Executive branch and to assure that the money appropriated is spent in the ways intended and that executive actions adhere to what has been authorized. In a divided government, it is an enormous and vital task.