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Congressman Doc Hastings

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Congressman Doc Hastings – Excerpt


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Then it was Tuesday, January 3, 1995, the day of the swearing-in of the 104th Congress. After a reception at the Capitol, the Clerk of the previous Congress called the House to order and asked all members in attendance to acknowledge their presence by inserting their voting cards into the electronic voting machines located throughout the chamber.

After a quorum had been established, the two party conference chairmen nominated their candidates for Speaker of the House. John Boehner of Ohio nominated Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Vic Fazio of California nominated Richard Gephardt of Missouri, the majority leader in the former Congress and now the highest-ranking Democrat after the defeat of the previous Speaker, Tom Foley, for House minority leader. After the nominations were closed, it was time to vote. The Clerk called the Roll of the House members in alphabetical order.

Ms. Harmon. The California Democrat responded, “Mr. Gephardt.”
Mr. Hastert. The future Republican Speaker from Illinois declared, “Mr. Gingrich.”
Mr. Hastings of Florida. “Mr. Gephardt.”
Mr. Hastings of Washington. “Mr. Gingrich.”

As a result of the Republican landslide, the result of the vote was a foregone conclusion. Newt Gingrich was the newly-elected Speaker of the House. The senior member of the Congress, John Dingell of Michigan rose from his accustomed seat in the second row and went to the well to swear in the new Speaker.

At the Speaker’s rostrum Gephardt and Gingrich stood side by side. Grasping the gavel, Gephardt spoke:

. . . So with partnership but with purpose, I pass this great gavel of our government, with resignation but resolve, I hereby end forty years of Democratic rule of this House.

Gingrich then asked the newly elected members to stand, raise their right hand, and affirm the Oath of Office, which he read aloud.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Richard “Doc” Hastings, the newly elected representative to Congress from Washington’s Fourth Congressional District, responded, “I do.”

As he took in the magnificent scene around him, he looked up at the Speaker’s rostrum and set a personal goal. Someday he would sit there and preside over the Congress as Speaker Pro Tempore, just as he had done when he had served in the Washington State Legislature. As he observed the other members around him and to their friends and families in the packed gallery, he thought, “There are 265 million people in the United States, and only 435 of them are elected to serve in Congress at any one time. I’m one of them. Not too bad for a kid from Pasco.”