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108th United States Congress

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

108th United States Congress
107th ←
→ 109th
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Senate PresidentDick Cheney (R)
Senate President pro temTed Stevens (R)
House SpeakerDennis Hastert (R)
Members100 senators
435 members of the House
5 non-voting delegates
Senate MajorityRepublican
House MajorityRepublican
1st: January 7, 2003 – December 8, 2003
2nd: January 20, 2004 – December 9, 2004

The One Hundred Eighth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives from January 3, 2003 to January 3, 2005, during the third and fourth years of George W. Bush's presidency.

House members were elected in the 2002 general election on November 5, 2002. Senators were elected in three classes in the 1998 general election on November 3, 1998, 2000 general election on November 7, 2000, or 2002 general election on November 5, 2002. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Twenty-second Census of the United States in 2000. Both chambers had a Republican majority.

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MR. GOVER: Thank you so much, Chief Fontaine, for that presentation. Our third presentation this afternoon is about the Native American Apology Resolution that is now pending in the United States Congress. As I indicated earlier, it passed the Senate earlier this year and now rests in the House. When the Apology Resolution first was introduced several years ago, one of the sponsors of that resolution was Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Senator Campbell is here with us this afternoon. He is a very special friend of this museum. As it happened, he also sponsored the legislation that established this museum. Please welcome Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. MR. BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL: Thank you, Kevin. I can say right from the start that I wish every member of the House and the United States Senate could have heard our last two speakers and could have seen the slide presentations that they presented. It’s very clear to me that the nation of Canada is way ahead of us from the standpoint of recognizing the past injustices and the things that we need to do to become whole again. I was interested in the similarity, too, between what many of our fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers went through in both the nation of Canada and the United States, too. I think in Canada, churches ran most of the schools. Here, we call them boarding schools and the federal government ran them, but the experiences for the youngsters were pretty much the same. Cut your hair forcefully, wash your mouth out if you spoke your own language or perhaps beat you, and the sign on the wall, you know, “You have to kill the Indian to save the child,” that kind of thing. That was very similar in Canada and here, and I know my dad was in an Indian boarding school and the stories he tells about those days were not good days. But we’re making progress. I’m going to skip around a little bit here because I know that we have sort of a mixed group, and as I look around the audience, I see some of my close friends from years and years. Vice Chairman Glynn Crooks of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community; Pablita Abeyta, who was my lead staffer when we wrote the language almost a quarter century ago to build this magnificent structure; Dan Inouye, our good friend on the Senate side. I was still in the House in those days. Dan was the prime sponsor on the Senate side. Allison Binney who’s down here as the chief counsel for Senator Dorgan, who is the chairman of the Indian Affairs committee in the US Senate--my old committee--and is doing just a marvelous job trying to get his colleagues and my former colleagues to recognize that we need to move forward on a lot of things, and I’m going to touch on just a couple of those. But by the same token, I assume that there are probably a few people in the audience who did not – maybe they’re here for the first time just learning about something they’d heard about in the Native American experience that most of us grew up with and recognize and also recognize that it’s not over. There are still many, many bad things happening to us. I think the misconception now is that you read in the paper once in a while about how rich those Indians are becoming because some of them have some natural resources or some of them have a casino. What those stories rarely talk about is the other 90% or more of Indians who are still living in poverty, who still have to eat government surplus food. MR. BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL: Overcome those things too. And certainly as part of it we believe that the federal government has a bigger responsibility than just what is called "trust responsibility." That trust responsibility, for those of you who have not been in the Indian community, means the obligation the federal government took on when they took land forcefully away from Indian people. They accepted the responsibility of providing certain things. Health care was one. Certain kinds of things--in those days it was based on beef and blankets but now it's based on, frankly, unemployment and the things of that nature--that they should be helping more with. But some people in the Congress have certainly taken the lead. And my friend and colleague, Senator Brownback, certainly has by recognizing that it's time that great nations are recognized as great peoples, that they should have a certain degree of humility about them and fess up and own up to some of the mistakes they've made. Senator Brownback could not be here tonight; he had another obligation. I know I'm rather a poor substitute for him but I would like to read his letter that he sent to me for you, if I can do this without my glasses: Dear Friends, I regret that I am unable to be here today at the National Museum of the American Indian for this important and inspiring symposium. As the primary sponsor for the Native American Apology Resolution, I recognize how important it is for the museum to initiate public forums such as this. For centuries relations between the United States and the Native people of this land have been in disrepair. For too much of our history federal-tribal relations have been marked by broken treaties, mistreatment, and dishonorable dealings. Certainly, we cannot erase the record of our past. However, we can acknowledge our past failures, express our sincere regrets, and work towards establishing a brighter future for all Americans. To help achieve this goal, I introduced the Senate Joint Resolution to extend a formal apology from the United States to tribal governments and Native people nationwide. While this apology passed in the Senate earlier this year as part of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, both the apology and the Indian health care bill have yet to be taken up by the House of Representatives. Even from the earliest days of our Republic, there has existed a sentiment that honorable dealings and peaceful coexistence were needed in our relations with our Native neighbors. Indeed, our predecessors in Congress in 1787 stated in the Northwest Ordinance, “The utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians.” It is my hope that this apology will be the foundation for a new area of positive relations between tribal governments and the United States. Soon after becoming a member of the United States House of Representatives and then in the Senate, I started traveling around Kansas [that’s Senator Brownback’s home state] and introducing myself. I noticed particularly when I went to the Native American areas and tribes in our state, that there was real anger there, and it was palpable. I started to ask the question, Why is this? Why has your American experience led to this sort of feeling? Then people would start talking about their stories and their heritage. It is most appropriate then that Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell will be speaking to you today about the Native American Apology Resolution. He didn't need to put that in here, I was going to read the letter anyway. But he goes on to say when we used to be on the House together we would often sit at the floor between votes and he would ask me a lot of questions about the Native American experience from my perspective, and I think perhaps he gained a little bit more insight, at least I hope so. But he does credit me and he didn't need to do that, but he’s a great friend. What this apology would do is recognize and honor the importance of Native Americans to this land and our nation in the past and today. It offers this apology to the Native peoples for the poor and painful choices our government sometimes made in disregard to its solemn word. And as a United States Senator, although I cannot apologize for all of my colleagues, I sincerely apologize on behalf of myself for all the past wrongs committed to Native Americans of this great land. Hopefully this apology will someday soon be passed through Congress and signed by the president. And it may then help restore the relationship between the federal government and Native Americans. Thank you again and please accept my warm wishes for a memorable Harvest of Hope Symposium. Senator Brownback is just a wonderful human being. And if you ever have a chance to meet him, I’m sure you will recognize it too. When we used to talk, we used to also think perhaps an apology would be the catalyst for more information. You know, my dad left the reservation years and years ago by going in the Army. It was his literally only hope to get out and find a job. And I used to ask him why he left, and he would simply say because I got tired of being hungry. Things are not good now on many reservations, but they must have been really bad when he left the reservation in 1914 to go in the army. I think that this whole apology is part of a bigger fabric and part of that big fabric too is the fact that in our experience, in our fathers’ and grandfathers’ experience, we were never allowed to define ourselves. We didn't have a written language for one thing. And the majority of population, the dominant population in America did have a written language. And so through the years and years, we saw things develop like the old Police Gazette pictures that you saw in the late 1800s or perhaps the dime novels where Indians were described as pillaging, heathen, raping savages. Or perhaps the old 1930s movies where everybody except an Indian got a movie part as playing Indians and it was usually done in sort of a negative fashion--negative stereotyping I think is the general word for it. When you have children raised with decade after decade after decade of being surrounded by those kinds of images, you can imagine why even now today we have as high a suicide rate as there is I think in the world. On some reservations one out of every two teenage girls tries suicide and one out of every teenage boys tries it. I don't know of any other culture that has that kind of a problem. And to my way of thinking that’s got to come from the kind of a dead-end existence sometimes these youngsters are raised with where they hear the old stories about how bad they are and not enough stories about how wonderful they are and how good they are. So many of us think something has got to come from the top. And certainly we know that an apology resolution from the United States government, is not going to fix all the problems we have. There are many. We’re making progress, however. And what we do think, perhaps it will lead to a better understanding and education of the Native people of this nation who went, as you know, from something like 100 million before 1492 to just under 200,000 by 1900. Many people don't know, although it’s common knowledge here at the Smithsonian, the leading, you might say flagship, institution of research in America, that over 50% of all foodstuffs now eaten in Europe started here. And many of the medicines, including quinine and many others, started here. They were Native American plants before they ever went to Europe. Rather ironic that the potato, as an example, was taken to Ireland and the people of Ireland became so dependent on the potato that when the potato blight came, thousands and thousands starved and created almost a mass exodus of Irish people to this nation. That’s how dependent they got on a Native American food. Well anyway, let me talk a little bit about the process of passing legislation. You’ve heard it sometimes defined as watching pork sausage being made. It is somewhat complicated. Those of you who are on the Hill a lot know how complicated it can be. But if I can just try and narrow it down to something in a nutshell, I’ll try and do that. Sometimes I think it’s a little bit like unrolling flypaper. You’re apt to catch anything that goes by with it. Some good things and some bad things. And the way the House and Senate work, as you probably know, there are many more bills introduced than can ever get passed in a two-year cycle. And everything works in two-year cycles. If it’s not done in two years, it has to start over right from the beginning in the following two years. And so just winding down this Congress, everything that has not finished this Congress will have to be reintroduced next year. And so sometimes bills will take 15 or 20 years to get through. A long time. Indians have been waiting a long time for this though, and they’re patient. And I’m sure that if they see the light at the end of the tunnel, they’re willing to wait just a little bit longer. But because there are so many bills that are due, sometimes, particularly near the end of the congressional section, things are attached to other things. All you have to have really is a title. So if you have a bill that has the word “Indian” in it, literally anything to do with Indians can be stuck on that just like flypaper. And some of the amendments may be good. Unfortunately, some of the amendments may be what we sometimes call the poison pill, in which somebody who might have been a sponsor or a big supporter at least of the original bill, when that addendum is put on, that very unpopular one, at least to the original person’s liking, goes on as an amendment, you lose some of the people that would have supported it otherwise. And that’s why it becomes very, very complicated to get something through. And it’s also why sometimes your congress persons or senators can be recorded as being for a bill and against the same bill. How do you do that? Well, it goes through a changing process. They may be for it in committee until some amendment was added on that they can't live with and so they vote against it at the next level, maybe on the floor, and maybe it’s carved out after it goes to conference committee, which is the resolving committee between the House and the Senate. And maybe he can then support it again. So those of you who are voting for or against somebody—remember a lot of those ads you see on TV, they take the worst that can possibly be said about a candidate and make it look like—look at that son of a gun, he voted against this wonderful bill. But he also may have voted for it too. You just have to track it a little more carefully. I think the people that frame up those negative campaigns often feel that most people won't bother tracking, they’ll just rely on some ten-second commercial and the 5 o’clock news about it. In any event, in the case of Senator Brownback’s very commendable language, it’s gone through three different Congresses now. But in this last term this year, it couldn’t get through the Senate as a self-standing bill. So people decided to attach that to something else. And the thing that they attached it to was called the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. Those is you who are, you might say in the red circle, understand the difficulty we’ve had in getting that reauthorized. It’s been almost 14 years since the Indian Health Care Improvement Act was authorized. Because it hasn’t been reauthorized, there are many new breakthroughs in technology and medicine. Well think of yourself, what’s happened in the last 14 years in terms of all the new wonder drugs and all the new kinds of things people can avail themselves of in the form of everything from transplants to fixing the common cold. But Indian people are sort of in a 14-year time warp because the health services come through a federal agency, the bill has to be reauthorized to let them come up to the modern-day standards. It has not been for 14 years, when the average for reauthorizing a bill in Congress is usually 3 to 4 years. So here we are fighting this other battle that has nothing to do with the resolution, but somebody decided to go ahead and put the Indian apology on the healthcare bill, which is okay. The only downside, it would not come out under the original sponsor’s name. It would come out under whoever was the sponsor for the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. That’s all right, as long as it’s supportive. I know many of my colleagues and certainly Senator Brownback, he’s not turf conscious. He’s fought very hard for this Indian resolution. But as long as it gets done, I’m sure he wouldn’t make a big thing out of the fact it comes our under some other bill. But guess what? They couldn’t get it past the Senate, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, because some people have a very, very strong belief about life. And they’re just totally against abortions. You probably know that, it’s a big dividing issue in our country in many elections. There was also an amendment put on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act that dealt with abortions. Once that was attached to it and it passed the Senate and it went to the House, it ran into that backlash I talked about, the flypaper effect, where some people who would have supported it beforehand, who happened to be very pro-choice, would not support that bill now because of that amendment. So here we are, bogged down, with something that’s totally unrelated to an Indian apology and we haven't been able to get that amendment off and we can't get it passed with it, so we’re just sort of stuck with it. They may be going back in session next week. I have a hunch they’ll be dealing much more with the fiscal problems that we all face as Americans now. But there’s still a slim, a very slim, chance that the Indian Health Care Improvement Act will pass. And if it does, the apology resolution will go through too. But even before it got that far, since we began to talk about this in the 108th Congress, introduced it in the 109th. It got past committee in the 109th, and we couldn’t get it past the floor. It got past the Senate—excuse me, the 108th. In the 109th it got past the floor of the Senate. We’re kind of back to square one. If we don't get it passed this year we’ll have to go back to reintroducing the whole thing again in the next term, which is the 110th, if my numbers are correct, the 110th and try for two more years. But I know, because I was involved in trying to help Senator Brownback, because at the time I was the chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, that some of our colleagues that we were trying to educate about the importance of this resolution, the importance of this apology, were concerned about what they called the domino effect. It’s already been mentioned some years ago. We did pass a resolution to apologize to Japanese Americans who suffered, you know, somewhat of the same indignity that American Indians did long before World War II. I was a young boy in California, just in elementary school, a youngster in California, but I still remember what happened to some of my Japanese American friends. When they were forced—they were given two days to sell all their property and herded on busses and sent to what are called relocation camps where I think it was basically they were imprisoned. Not because they did anything wrong, many of them were patriotic, loyal Americans and in fact the most decorated battalion of World War II was called the 442nd Nisei Battalion. Dan Inouye, my Senate colleague and friend who has been such a supporter of Indian issues, lost his arm as a member of the 442nd Nisei Battalion. But this is while many of his own family were interned in literally a prison camp called a relocation camp. So they were learning that greed and prejudice reared its ugly head in World War II towards good patriotic Japanese Americans just as it had done to get many good Native Americans before that and they had their rights literally stripped away. But in that apology resolution with the Japanese Americans, it was mentioned there was a payment to be made, a $20,000 payment to every Japanese American family and it was made. I was on the House side in those days and I remember supporting that and speaking to it too on the floor. The problem with some of our senators believe it would start a domino effect. That if we did that with the Japanese Americans and now we created a situation where we would have to make some kind of cash payment to every American Indian family for what they lost, what would it mean next? Would the African American community all need to have some kind of a repayment? You know as well as I do in the history of America there have been many people who have been discriminated against, who have had it tough, including the Irish in New York, including Hispanic Americans in part of the United States, and certainly the African Americans too. So that kind of a fear of a domino effect is what they weren’t saying out loud and didn't really I think want to put into writing, but I know in talking to some of them personally that was one of their big concerns. There was no, you know, repayment of any sort in the apology resolution, but they—what they sometimes call on the Hill “wait until the other shoe drops,” which means you get something now, you come back three years later and say well wait a minute, what about us, we got left out and why can't we change this and have sort of a nibbling effect. And some of them were a little bit afraid of that nibbling effect. In any event, many of us thought it was really important. We recognize that even though it may be somewhat symbolic and doesn’t actually put food on the table, if we recognize that if you look at the history of this great nation, and you think of what symbolism is all about, what the American flag is about or what the Statue of Liberty is about, or what the Liberty Bell is about. They’re symbols that bind a nation and remind us of the good, the bad and the ugly that’s taken place in our history. Even though it may not, you know, do anything right now for an immediate effect of helping to get supper on the table, it certainly binds you together as a nation and inspires a nation, too. So if it was only symbolic, it seems to me that it was an important symbol to do that. Senator Brownback, though, I know him well and believe me, he’s not going to give it up. He’s going to continue on. If we don't get it passed this year, he will next year. Let me maybe stop there because I know we have some limited time. But just let me also leave you with one thing, as I mentioned earlier. We believe we’ve come a long way compared to how far our ancestors had to go. But if you leave here with anything on your mind, if you’re not familiar with Indian Country, it’s just this thing, “It ain’t over.” We still have a long way to go, and we still have a lot of children that need help. And we still have a lot of education to do, too. But thank you, and thank you for your attendance. [Applause]


Major events

Major legislation


Proposed, but not enacted

Party summary


Party standings in the 108th Congress   48 Democratic Senators   1 Independent Senator, caucusing with Democrats   51 Republican Senators
Party standings in the 108th Congress
  48 Democratic Senators
  1 Independent Senator, caucusing with Democrats
  51 Republican Senators
U.S. Senate in the Senate Chamber (2003)
U.S. Senate in the Senate Chamber (2003)

The party summary for the Senate remained the same during the entire 108th Congress.

(shading shows control)
Total Vacant
End of previous congress 48 1 50 1 100 0
Begin 48 1 51 0 100 0
Final voting share 48.0% 1.0% 51.0% 0.0%
Beginning of next congress 44 1 55 0 100 0

House of Representatives

Due to resignations and special elections, Republicans lost a net of two seats to the Democrats. All seats were filled though special elections. (See Changes in membership, below.)

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
End of previous Congress 209 1 223 433 2
Begin 204 1 229 434 1
May 31, 2003 228 434 1
June 5, 2003 205 229 435 0
December 9, 2003 228 434 1
January 20, 2004 227 433 2
February 17, 2004 228 434 1
June 1, 2004 207 228 435 0
June 9, 2004 206 434 1
July 20, 2004 229 435 0
August 31, 2004 205 228 434 1
September 23, 2004 204 227 432 3
Final voting share 48.0% 52.0%
Non-voting members 4 0 1 5 0
Beginning of next Congress 201 1 232 434 1



Senate President
Senate President pro Tempore

Majority (Republican) leadership

Minority (Democratic) leadership

House of Representatives

Speaker of the House

Majority (Republican) leadership

Minority (Democratic) leadership



The Senators are preceded by the class, In this Congress, Class 3 meant their term ended with this Congress, requiring reelection in 2004; Class 1 meant their term began in the last Congress, requiring reelection in 2006; and Class 2 meant their term began in this Congress, requiring reelection in 2008.

House of Representatives

The Members of the House of Representatives are preceded by the district number.

Changes in membership

Members who came and left during this Congress.


No changes occurred.

House of Representatives

District Vacator Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation[a]

Hawaii 2nd Vacant Patsy Mink had been elected to this seat posthumously. Ed Case had already won Mink's seat in the 107th Congress. Ed Case (D) January 4, 2003
Texas 19th Larry Combest (R) Resigned May 31, 2003 for personal reasons. A special election was held June 3, 2003. Randy Neugebauer (R) June 5, 2003
Texas 4th Ralph Hall (D) Changed political parties Ralph Hall (R) January 5, 2004
Kentucky 6th Ernie Fletcher (R) Resigned December 9, 2003 to become Governor of Kentucky. A special election was held February 17, 2004 Ben Chandler (D) February 17, 2004
South Dakota At-large Bill Janklow (R) Resigned January 20, 2004 because of a December 2003 felony conviction in relation to a traffic accident. A special election was held June 1, 2004. Stephanie Herseth (D) June 1, 2004
North Carolina 1st Frank Ballance (D) Resigned June 9, 2004 as a result of health problems. A special election was held July 20, 2004 G. K. Butterfield (D) July 20, 2004
Louisiana 5th Rodney Alexander (D) Switched parties August 9, 2004 Rodney Alexander (R) August 9, 2004
Nebraska 1st Doug Bereuter (R) Resigned August 31, 2004 to head the Asia Foundation. Remained vacant until the next Congress.
Florida 14th Porter Goss (R) Resigned September 23, 2004 to head the CIA.
California 5th Robert Matsui (D) Died January 1, 2005


Lists of committees and their party leaders, for members (House and Senate) of the committees and their assignments, go into the Official Congressional Directory at the bottom of the article and click on the link (1 link), in the directory after the pages of terms of service, you will see the committees of the Senate, House (Standing with Subcommittees, Select and Special) and Joint and after the committee pages, you will see the House/Senate committee assignments in the directory, on the committees section of the House and Senate in the Official Congressional Directory, the committee's members on the first row on the left side shows the chairman of the committee and on the right side shows the ranking member of the committee.


House of Representatives

Joint committees


Employees and legislative agency directors

Legislative branch agency directors


House of Representatives

See also


  1. ^ This is the date the member was seated or an oath administered, not necessarily the same date her/his service began.


External links

This page was last edited on 9 January 2020, at 17:43
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