FILE ID:97032105.TXT

(House funding, Gingrich/conservatives, Shelby/Tenet) (770)


The House of Representatives voted 213-179 March 21 to fund an
investigation of alleged illegal campaign fundraising by the
Democratic Party during the recent presidential election after
Republican leaders worked out a compromise with members of their own
party who had blocked consideration of the resolution the previous

Eleven Republican rebels had joined the minority Democrats March 20 to
defeat the funding resolution in part as a protest against a $22
million increase in spending for 19 House committees.

The compromise, worked out in an emotional two-hour Republican party
caucus late in the evening of March 20, freezes spending for all
committees at current levels for 30 days but approves extra money for
the committee that will conduct the campaign spending probe.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee investigation approved as a
result of that compromise March 21 will be limited to presidential
campaign fundraising practices. The comparable Senate investigation,
which will be conducted by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
chaired by Senator Fred Thompson (Republican-Tennessee), will include
Congressional campaign practices as well.

Moderate Republican Representatives, including a number who want the
House investigation broadened to include Congressional campaigns,
voted for the revised funding resolution after receiving assurances
that if improprieties in those races surfaced, they would be examined
by a different committee.

The Republican dissidents, primarily conservative freshmen, opposed
the original funding resolution because, as one of them,
Representative Mark Neumann of Wisconsin, put it, they were unwilling
to "add more bureaucrats" to the Congressional payroll. They also were
unhappy about what they saw as House Speaker Newt Gingrich's
willingness to compromise one of their key legislative priorities, tax


Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich met for two hours March 20 with
representatives of 34 conservative activist organizations to hear
their views about his alleged lack of vigor in pushing for adoption of
their legislative agenda.

An article in the Washington Times quoted one attendee as saying that
Gingrich "tried to explain the confusion over where he stands on tax
cuts and balancing the budget." Earlier in the week, Gingrich had
angered some Republican conservatives by indicating he felt Congress
had a "moral imperative" to balance the budget during this session,
and that this objective should have priority over all others,
including tax cuts.

This participant said Gingrich "apologized to the group for making the
mistake of talking to reporters and thinking he could get his message
out about the priority of tax cuts and balancing the budget." He
characterized this "as massive meltdown on the message."

The Speaker's office had a different reaction to the meeting, the
Washington Times said: "The Speaker ... participated in a dialogue
that included no criticism of Newt Gingrich but instead voiced
principled concerns, which consisted of a lack of conservatives
testifying before current committee hearings," Gingrich spokeswoman
Christina Martin said. "It should be noted that the meeting began and
ended in applause."


Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Shelby
(Republican-Alabama) has asked for the complete Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) files on George Tenet, who is President Clinton's
new nominee to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

According to a March 21 article in the Washington Post, a senior
Shelby aide said the Senator wants the White House to provide the same
kind of FBI file review for Tenet that the Senate Judiciary Committee
requires for lifetime judicial appointments because the senator
believes the CIA directorship "is as important as a lifetime
appointment ... and wants to set a precedent."

The Intelligence Committee's ranking minority member, Senator Bob
Kerrey (Democrat-Nebraska) warned that Shelby's action could trigger
the same kind of contentious confirmation battle that eventually
prompted former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake to withdraw his
nomination for the CIA post.

"There is no such thing as a whole FBI file," Kerrey told the
Washington Post. He said in its comprehensive investigation of
presidential nominees, the FBI asks questions and elicits answers that
should never be made public. He said he would not permit Shelby to
imply, as Kerrey claims he did in the Lake confirmation hearings, that
Tenet "is trying to hide something."

Shelby has publicly stated that the Tenet confirmation hearings will
be fair.

The committee will not take up the nomination until April 7, by which
time the White House will have provided it with necessary background
material, including financial disclosure forms and the results of the
FBI's investigation of Tenet.