Senate GOP Re-elects Lott As Leader

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: After an election that saw voters deal the GOP's presidential candidate a convincing loss and the party's combative House Speaker a stern warning, the man who has emerged as the national leader of the Republican party was Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Lott, who took over the Senate leadership after Bob Dole resigned to focus on his presidential bid, was re-elected Tuesday by his colleagues to lead the 105th Congress. While the 104th Congress was defined by the aggressive, sometimes bellicose, style of Newt Gingrich, this legislative session should be shaped by Lott's more conciliatory, though still conservative, approach. Shortly after being chosen without opposition, Lott said the GOP and Clinton could work together on balancing the budget, cutting taxes and other issues. "We look forward to working with the President to get legislative achievements signed into law," he said. However, Lott also pledged to hold hearings on allegations of illegal fund-raising by Democrats during the election. Whether Lott and Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who was also re-elected to his post on Tuesday, cooperate on campaign finance reform could be emblematic of how the two parties work together on other partisan issues such as balancing the budget and entitlements. Lott will have to appeal to moderate Democrats in order to push his legislative agenda: even though the GOP expanded its majority in the Senate by two seats to 55-45 in the November election, Republicans are still five votes short of stopping Democratic filibusters. At the same time, Lott will have to appease his own constituency, which has grown increasingly conservative, especially with the retirements of moderates like Alan Simpson and Nancy Kassebaum.