- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2001

No stranger times

"I find this exciting," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, told Inside the Beltway just before yesterday's swearing-in of freshman members of the 107th Congress.

"This is my 13th swearing-in day," he noted. "I told my family on New Year's Day that I wouldn't miss this for anything in the world, considering the uniqueness of this body, the 50-50 Senate split … and the strangeness of this presidential election."

Sen. Clinton

Sen. Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and, for the next 16 days anyway, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee tells Inside the Beltway he intends to seat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on his influential committee.

"I look forward to getting her on our committee," said Mr. Kennedy, who after Inaugural Day when Richard B. Cheney is sworn in as vice president and returns control of the Senate to the GOP will relinquish the chairmanship to Republican Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont.

Like the other newly elected senators, Mrs. Clinton is eager to learn her committee assignments. She's expressed interest in education, finance, appropriations and foreign relations, and is awaiting placement from Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Still, as Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi reminded everybody, Mrs. Clinton will "be one of 100 co-equals. She'll have to get used to that."

Lucky 13

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe even former Rep. Patricia Schroeder were just a few of the ladies sporting smiles in the U.S. Capitol yesterday.

"There were two women when I came to the Senate," Mrs. Boxer told this columnist before Mrs. Clinton took the oath of office. "Now we have 13, and that's an incredible change. We're on the cutting edge of change."

Mrs. Boxer said if it wasn't for the uniqueness of the 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, the biggest story of the 107th Congress would be the strides women have made in winning public office.

"Whoever would have known?" added Mrs. Schroeder, who recalled when she first arrived on Capitol Hill and a fellow female member had been defeated, she overheard male members discussing "doing away with one of the [Capitol's] ladies' rest rooms."

Wealthy winners

Members of the 107th Congress won election in campaigns funded by one-tenth of 1 percent of all Americans, which makes for a unique body of elected officials: wealthy.

"Majority rule takes on a whole new meaning when the majority of campaign cash comes from one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans," says Julia Hutchins, of the liberal U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

"If candidates were required to raise funds from small donors, more ordinary citizens and less wealthy executives might be taking the oath of office today," she says.

Approximately 1 in 1,000 Americans (0.13 percent) made a contribution of more than $200 to a winning candidate in the 2000 election, according to Federal Election Commission records, while maximum individual contributions of $1,000 accounted for 60 percent of the money raised by winning candidates.


ZIP codes with the greatest number of $1,000 donors in the 2000 congressional election: 10021, 10022, 10028, 10128, 10023, 10024 (all New York City); 20007 (the District); 33480 (Palm Beach, Fla.); 22101 (Fairfax) and 90210 (Los Angeles).

C-130 anyone?

The time it took House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Floyd D. Spence, South Carolina Republican, to fly aboard a U.S. Airways nonstop flight from Columbia, S.C., to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Tuesday evening: 97 minutes.

Time the congressman and fellow passengers stood at the U.S. Airways baggage carousel awaiting their luggage, which never showed up: 97 minutes.

The airline, which finally acknowledged it misplaced the "entire" plane's baggage, sent passengers to their homes and hotels, unable to deliver the personal effects until the wee hours of yesterday morning.


Acronym for the Supreme Court of Florida: SCOFLA (pronounced "scofflaw").

Needless to say, signs and jokes are everywhere.

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