The GOP Loosens Up

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WASHINGTON: The 1998 edition of Bill Clinton may be a lame duck, but the 1995 version still packs plenty of punch. With the budget fight on Capitol Hill steaming toward a surprisingly peaceful conclusion, Trent Lott -- long the Senate's most immovable object -- is suddenly playing Great Compromiser to the White House, greasing the legislative wheels with encouraging words about getting out of town by Wednesday with a budget deal in the can.

He's not just homesick. "Republicans believe they have the advantage going into the midterms, and it could be worth a lot of seats," says TIME congressional correspondent James Carney. "They certainly don't want to give the Democrats another 1995 shutdown with which to beat them over the head." For Republicans, who are still cringing after the political pummeling Clinton gave them that year, revenge is a dish best served on November 3.