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'New Order' Cometh, GOP's Incoming Leaders Promise


WASHINGTON — The incoming Republican leadership of Congress took the first steps toward an uneasy revolution Monday, with the House team promising a "transformation . . . not only a transition" to a "new order" in Washington.

And while pledging to guarantee full participation by the Democratic minority, they vowed to keep the House in session seven days a week if that's what it takes to pass their "contract with America," a slate of legislative goals, in the first 100 days of the new Congress.

Meanwhile, Speaker-in-waiting Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) met for the first time since last Tuesday's elections and sought to put a tranquil face on what is widely expected to be a complex and fragile relationship. Though there was nothing but smiles for reporters Monday, they are about to embark on a struggle to see who will be the most powerful member of Congress: Dole, the elder moderate, or Gingrich, the new Republican revolutionary.

The promise of a new order was most clearly sounded by the Republican captains designated by Gingrich to direct the dismantling of a Democratic system that has governed the House for 40 years. "This is time to be open to dramatic, bold changes," Gingrich told a crowded news conference at which he introduced the leaders of his transition team.

Certainly one could hear it in the rhetoric of Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), the little-known 34-year-old sophomore congressman in charge of the transition: "I think it was Albert Einstein that said, 'The problems of today cannot be solved by the same thinking which created those problems in the first place.' "

But even some of Gingrich's own troops sounded uneasy with the degree of promised change. Veteran Kansas Republican Rep. Pat Roberts, who will be the Senate liaison during the transition, cautioned reporters "that change for the sake of change may sound good, but you have to beware of the law of unintended effects."

The Republican House leadership team came armed with an effort to evoke a stronger sense of bipartisanship than Gingrich's earlier comments might have suggested. Gingrich had made headlines by saying he would cooperate but not compromise when he controls the House.

To avoid confrontation Monday, Gingrich refused to discuss what might happen when the GOP takes control of the House, saying, "I'll talk about the transition assignment and about the family committee. That's all."

The new family committee was part of the conciliatory effort. Called the Advisory Committee on Family Quality of Life, the group is charged with making the House schedule more closely mirror the school calendar so that lawmakers and their aides can spend more time with their families. Gingrich promised it will have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans and will include spouses and children.

The family panel was also designed, he said, to show "that we're going to turn values into policy and not just leave them as empty rhetoric."

But at the same press conference, likely Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.) vowed that the House would work seven days a week and through the night if necessary to pass the "contract with America" in 100 days. Among other things, the GOP contract pledges to cut taxes, increase defense spending and pass a balanced-budget amendment.

Later in the day, Gingrich met for 45 minutes with Dole. The two have never been close, and they represent not only generational differences in how to be a legislator but also ideological differences in their party.

There was little hint of that Monday, however. "If he has a bill and we have a bill, hopefully they will be the same," Dole said. "We need to coordinate whenever we can. That doesn't mean we are never going to disagree."

As for the Democrats, they began early skirmishing over who would lead the minority party in the House, and Senate. Rep. Charlie Rose (D-N.C.) announced that he would run for minority leader against outgoing Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.). Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), longtime chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he would challenge Rep. Vic Fazio (D-West Sacramento) for Democratic Caucus chairman. Rose and Mfume are considered underdogs.

In the Senate, beleaguered Democrats pondered a change in leadership after the retirement of Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Me.). Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) told reporters this weekend that he would compete against Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) for the spot.

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