Control Of Congress May Not Be Decided Until December (290)

MARTIN, Tenn. — So you think you’ll know by early Wednesday which political Party controls the two houses of Congress. Well, maybe. And maybe not.

 Dr. Ted Mosch, political scientist at the University of Tennessee-Martin, says the control of the House may turn on the outcome of elections in 13 Texas districts.

 “Those districts originally were drawn to ensure a seat for minorities. Then the court came back and said ‘you can’t do that, that’s racial apartheid,” Mosch said.

 A few districts in Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana have been affected, “but there are 13 districts in Texas that have been redrawn at the last minute,” Mosch said.

 A district court has ruled if a candidate doesn’t receive 50 percent of the vote in those districts, there will have to be a Dec. 10 runoff.

 “That could mean we wouldn’t know which party controls the 105th Congress until mid-December,” Mosch said.

 Both parties are scrambling to win House and Senate seats in closely contested races.

 But regardless of which party controls Congress the next two years, UT-Chattanooga political scientist Bob Swansbrough believes there would be more cooperation between President Clinton, if he were re-elected, and Congress.

 “The American people are demanding it,” Dr. Swansbrough said.

 “They want the Congress and the president to cooperate more and come up with some compromises for incremental changes, rather than either the dramatic health care bill which President Clinton offered or the (Rep. Newt) Gingrich agenda which scared many people,” Swansbrough said.

 “Whether it’s (Republican) Gingrich or (Democrat) Dick Gephart as speaker, I think you’re going to find a much less partisan environment, the president less ambitious in terms of the scope of his programs, and a little more cooperation no matter which party controls the House.”

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 Contacts: Ted Mosch (901-587-7481) or Bob Swansbrough (423-755-4635)