All of a sudden the do-nothing Congress is doing everything at once. Why? Fear. A Washington adage says members of Congress care about only three things: getting re-elected, getting re-elected and getting re-elected. When Republicans returned from their July 4 recess, a privately distributed poll by G.O.P. pollster Richard Wirthlin showed that voters would prefer a Democrat to a Republican as their representative by 5 percentage points. In 1994 it took only a 2-point advantage the other way round for Republicans to win control of the House and the Senate.

Thus emerged the bills that Dole strategists would rather keep bottled...

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