Oliphant's Anthem: Pat Oliphant at the Library of Congress

The 104th Congress convened on January 4, 1995, with the Republican Party, under the leadership of new House Speaker Newt Gingrich and new Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, holding majorities in both the House and the Senate for the first time in forty years. GOP lawmakers hailed the new term as a major step in the "Republican revolution" while formerly dominant Democrats struggled to adapt to minority status. In September 1994, more than three hundred GOP House candidates had signed a "Contract with America," a campaign manifesto drawn up by Gingrich that included such bill proposals as The Fiscal Responsibility Act, The Taking Back Our Streets Act, The Personal Responsibility Act, The Family Reinforcement Act, The American Dream Restoration Act, The National Security Restoration Act, The Senior Citizens Fairness Act, The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, The Common Sense Legal Reform Act, and The Citizen Legislature Act.

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In interviews on September 1, 1994, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the outlawed Provisional Irish Republican Army, and leading Sinn Fein strategist Martin McGuinness faulted the government of British Prime Minister John Major for refusing to enter into peace talks with them until three months after the truce announced by the Irish Republican Army on August 31. Peace talks between Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds and Gerry Adams finally began on September 6.

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