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History of the Republican Party

The Republicans look toward the future

After Haley Barbour's election as chairman of the Republican National Committee in January of 1993, the party began concentrating on organizing its grass-roots strength. Focusing on the principles that had historically made the Republicans a strong party, Barbour emphasized individual freedom, personal responsibility and reduced government. As a result of that work, House Republican members and candidates together created the Contract With America , a bold agenda of 10 specific pieces of legislation based on Republican principles of individual liberty, economic opportunity, limited and effective government, personal responsibility and strong security. All told, 367 candidates signed the Contract With America to bring fundamental change to the way business is conducted in the people's House of Representatives.

On November 8, 1994, the American people responded to the Republican promise of concrete change and voted for a new American majority in the greatest midterm majority swing of the 20th century. After 40 years of a Democratic-controlled Congress, Republicans gained majorities in both the House and Senate, as well as a majority of the states' governorships for the first time in two decades. Not a single incumbent Republican governor, senator or representative lost.

The swearing in of the 104th Congress marked the start of the process of change embodied in the Contract With America. For example, Republicans have made Congress abide by the same laws it imposes on the rest of us; commissioned the first independent audit of the Congress in history; cut Congress' budget by at least 10 percent--more than $200 million; eliminated three congressional committees, 25 subcommittees and one of every three committee staff jobs; imposed term limits on committee chairs and the speaker; planned a balanced budget reducing the deficit to zero in seven years without raising taxes; and worked to protect, preserve and improve Medicare.

The actions of the 104th Congress not only promise to fundamentally alter the way that Washington, and indeed the nation, works, they also signal the continuation of a long Republican history of offering fresh ideas and principled approaches to the challenges facing our nation.