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Election 2000: Congress' Fairly Even Balance of Power May Lead to InefficacyAired November 8, 2000 - 9:18 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to check in on Congress now. Based on the results we're getting in from last night Republicans appear to be holding on to majority control of both Houses of Congress. The party's leads are slim, but still significant. A look at the balance of power, now, as we have the numbers.
First, in the House of Representatives, Republicans, right now, clinging to more than 220 seats. Democrats, meanwhile, have 210. Two seats held by independents. We apologize the numbers are not there. Meanwhile in the Senate, though, the Republicans holding, now, 50 seats. They had a 54-46 advantage going into the night but at this time Republicans with 50, Democrats 48. Races, now, in two states still undecided.
First of all in Michigan, we see the results coming down right now extremely close and, indeed, too close to call. And also the same for the Pacific Northwest in the state of Washington that you see on your screen now; again, that race is too close to call as well. And certainly, a lot of folks in Washington watching the results and waiting for them.
Back to Frank Sesno, who is watching as well -- Frank.
FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Bill, you know we're talking about who's in control and who is not. Yes, the Republicans will retain control, or so it appears, narrowly, of the House and the Senate. But, you know, there's not unanimity among Republicans and certainly not unanimity -- it fact, there's hostility -- between Republicans and Democrats. So enter whoever the resident of the White House is going to be, it's going to be tough to get things done.
And there are some real issues out there. Let's take some things that are just pending right now. There was a tax bill that got to the president's desk. It contained such things as an opportunity for you, the viewer, to put more money in a deductible fashion into your 401(k) or into your IRA. It contained billions of dollars to put emergency school construction funds to work, reduce class size. All this stuff is now on hold.
Bill, what Republicans told me late yesterday is, if George W. Bush wins, they expect that tax bill will be set to the side. It will all await his initiative and his much bigger tax bill, which they predict, by itself, will have tough sliding even with Republicans in charge. So it's up for grabs.
HEMMER: Yes, certainly it's something to watch there. Back to the Senate here, quickly. A really tight race fought out in the small state of Delaware, Frank, with two very well-known men in that state. And the results are in.
SESNO: That's right, William Roth has been around for a very long time, very powerful chairman of the Senate finance committee. He's helped to shape a lot of the things that we know, such as Roth IRAs -- loses to Governor Thomas Carper.
And he's joins us now -- I believe, I hope he's there -- there he is. Senator-elect, I guess we call you now?
GOV. TOM CARPER (D), DELAWARE SENATOR ELECT: Call me governor.
SESNO: Call you governor. All right, we'll call you whatever you'd like.
CARPER: I've been called a lot worse.
SESNO: Well, perhaps; not here, though. You are going to come to Washington, as we were just talking -- Bill Hemmer and I -- with this very narrow mandate. What do you get done? What do you expect?
CARPER: Whoever wins the presidential election had better be good at putting together compromises and building consensus. If it should be George Bush, he will have come without the mandate of the popular vote. He'll come into a Senate which will be very narrowly controlled, I think, by Republicans in the House -- very narrowly controlled by Republicans. And there are enough swing votes between moderate Republicans and more centrist Democrats like myself that it's going to be a most interesting day.
SESNO: Yours was a close and competitive race. Senator Roth, 79 years old -- age became an issue. You talked about the future, that was part of your campaign motto. He fell a couple of times raising questions in a number of circles about his age. Is that what did it?
CARPER: Well, I think really we outworked him. I think we were right on the issues. Delaware seems to be a state where we're fiscally conservative and progressive on social issues, and we've really done a lot of things at the local level here. We balance our budgets every year, we cut taxes, eliminated the marriage penalty, provide estate tax relief, set up a prescription drug program, put in place a patients' bill of rights.
We've done in Delaware a lot of things that we, frankly, need to do as a nation. And what I've said all along is we need more people in the Congress who think a little more like governors who are result- oriented. Who simply aren't so partisan, just want to get things done.
SESNO: Well, you want to get a number of things done and some of them are big tasks. You want to do something to curb the flood of money into the political system. You'd like to clamp down on soft money, as we call it. You'd also like to pass a patients' bill of rights so people can sue HMOs -- included in that. What are the prospects for such sweeping initiatives?
CARPER: I think they're pretty good. Given the kind of money that we were forced to raise and spend in this campaign -- and I think people are sick of it. I know that I am. I think the biggest challenge we face in opportunity, regardless of who ends up as our president is, what do you do with an almost $2 trillion budget surplus going forward?
My own hope is that we use that money to pay off the national debt over the next decade. We use the interest savings from doing that to shore up Medicare and Social Security. We cut some taxes and we use a little bit of what's left to make Head Start possible for all 3 and 4-year-olds who live in poverty, and to put in place a prescription drug program.
SESNO: Governor, senator-elect Tom Carper, you could be called both, thanks very much.
CARPER: Thanks so much; appreciate it.
So Bill and Daryn, there you have it, one person's view. A lot he wants to get done, but as we said, very narrow majorities. It'll be tough. Short honeymoon if it's Gore -- rather, if it's Bush, say folks up on the Hill, and if it's Gore, they say, he doesn't get cut much slack.
HEMMER: A changing face, though, in Delaware. Senator Roth had that position since 1971 but, indeed, nearly 30 years later it is handed back to the Democrats.
Frank, thanks, we'll be back in touch.
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