Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Two years ago, when I became the first Republican speaker in 40 years, to the degree I was too brash, too self-confident or too pushy, I apologize. To whatever degree in any way that I brought controversy or inappropriate attention to the House, I apologize.”
Newt Gingrich won reelection as speaker last night, but the narrow vote has left him weakened. Nine Republicans broke ranks in the roll call, leaving the Georgian with 216 votes — enough to win, but short of a clear majority of the 435 members. Defectors never coalesced around a rival, and only four backed other candidates. Five, in effect, abstained. The speaker looked pale and drawn as he took the gavel. He said, “I felt humbled, and I feel responsible.” He also talked about the military.
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “I’ve asked Chairman Spence, on the National Security Committee, both to look at the issue of national missile defense and to look at the question of military reform. And let me say to all of my friends on both sides of the aisle, we have every opportunity, through reform, to shrink the Pentagon to a triangle. We have every opportunity to apply the lessons of downsizing, the lessons of the information age. And just because something is in uniform doesn’t mean it has to be saluted. But instead, we should be getting every penny for our taxpayers. And we in the Congress should be looking at long-term contracting as one way to dramatically lower the cost of defense.”
The House has refused extra time for the ethics investigation of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, putting pressure on the Ethics Committee to act swiftly as the last phase of the inquiry was to begin tomorrow, when, under rules adopted by the House, the House has to vote on adopting penalties for Gingrich’s admitted ethics violations by January 21. That’s the date agreed to by the committee last month, but investigators said yesterday they needed more time to ensure a fair and orderly process.
A federal appeals court says California Governor Pete Wilson should use the political process, not the courts, to collect from the U.S. government. The 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco has rejected Wilson’s suit seeking $2.4 billion for the costs of illegal immigration. Wilson claims his state has had to foot the bill for the failure of Washington to stem the flow of “illegal immigrants.” But the appeals court says it doesn’t have the authority to decide the issue.
Trying to seize the public relations initiative from rebels holding 74 hostages, Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori broke his silence on the crisis and toured a prison, where other Túpac Amaru rebels are being held. The Túpac Amaru rebels stormed the Japanese ambassador’s residence December 17. Fujimori has acknowledged the public relations blow suffered by his administration, which has declared victory in a vicious war against guerrillas. He said he hoped to convince journalists not to transmit the image that Peru is living in a situation of terrorism.