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Contract with America

The Contract with America was a document released during the 1994 Congressional election by the United States Republican Party. It detailed the actions that the Republicans would take upon becoming the majority party in Congress. Critics of the contract sometimes refered to it as the Contract on America.

Table of contents
1 Role and Uses of the Contract
2 Content of the Contract
3 Impacts of the Contract

Role and Uses of the Contract

The Contract with America was introduced during the 1994 election campaign; it was signed by all the Republican members of the House of Representatives, and all Republican candidates for that body. It laid out the plans of the Republicans in a very specific way; the Contract was revolutionary in its committment to specific actions. It was the first time that a Congressional election had been run on such a national level. The Contract represented a triumph of Newt Gingrich and the American conservative movement.

Content of the Contract

The Contract's actual text was a list of actions the Republicans promised to take if they were in the majority following the election. The promises were a conservative wish-list, made up of two parts.

The first day of the GOP majority

On the first day of their majority, the Republicans promised to pass eight reforms in the way government was operated, including auditing Congress for wasteful spending, cutting Congressional committee staff, and requiring a 3/5 majority (rather than the traditional simple majority) to pass tax increases. These reforms were mostly aimed at correcting perceived defects in how government was run by reducing the power of what the Republicans saw as entrenched Congressional leadership that didn't represent the country.

The first 100 days of the GOP majority

During the first 100 days of the Congress, the Republicans pledged "to bring to the floor the following bills, each to be given a full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote, and each to be immediately available for public inspection". The text of the proposed bills was included in the Contract, which was released prior to the election. These bills were not governmental reforms, as the previous promises were; rather, they represented significant changes to policy. The main features included tax cuts for businesses and individuals, term limits for legislators, and welfare reform.

Impacts of the Contract

Many observers cite the Contract with America as having helped secure a decisive victory for the Republicans in the 1994 elections; others dispute this role. Whatever the role of the Contract, Republicans were elected to a majority, and many parts of the Contract were enacted (although many others either did not pass Congress, were vetoed by President Bill Clinton, or were substantially altered in negotiations with Clinton.)