Gary L. Bauer, President
March 7, 1995
A few weeks ago I had the honor of a visit from my good friend and colleague, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Even though Jim and I talk on the phone every week he doesn't come to Washington often, so it is always great to see him. In addition to our friendship and work together, his visits always serve another welcome purpose: they provide me with a "reality check" on what the pro-family world outside Washington thinks about what is happening in our nation's capital.
I've said this many times before: This city, with all its perks and power, has the potential to turn people who work here away from their roots and their sense of basic justice for families.
None of us is _completely_ safe from that temptation. That is one reason why my staff and I have always relied on the power of prayer and mutual support in facing our daily schedules. We rely on something else as well: the constant stream of letters and phone calls from people like you, who remind us of the things that matter most. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you a day in the life of FRC. It was early last month, during Jim's time here. We spent the bulk of the day on Capitol Hill. Let me say first that both of us were impressed with the response we received from members of Congress and their staffs. Their interest in pro-family policy change, and the indebtedness they openly proclaim, first to their pro-family constituents like you, and above all, to their gift of faith, is overwhelming to see.
This attitude is especially true among the new members, who bring to Washington a rare spirit of service. They seem determined not to succumb to the siren songs that have corrupted so many lives in this town. FRC will do everything we can to help them avoid that trap.
Imagine you were in Washington with us that day. (You were here in spirit!) Wednesday morning broke bright and early over the Capitol.
7:30 A.M. BREAKFAST ON CAPITOL HILL:
Even though the 104th Congress has been in session less that 100 days, its members are already moving at break-neck speed on an ambitious agenda. Focus on the Family and FRC cosponsored this Congressional breakfast to offer the members moral support and to acquaint them with our extensive public policy resources. Jim and I had no idea how many Congressmen would come-- or how many would duck out early for official business. The competition was heavy! On the morning of our breakfast six other events were taking place, including a speech by House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
You can imagine our surprise when, despite the competition, 34 members joined us to discuss the issues. On top of that, nearly all of these Congressmen and women-- all but one of them in their first or second terms-- stayed through the duration of the breakfast. In fact, they remained until well after its scheduled end to ask us questions about issues from school prayer to welfare reform. Many had tears in their eyes as Dr. Dobson spoke eloquently about the sanctity of life. I urged them to fight for lower taxes and less government but also to deal with family breakdown and the flight from values. One after another, the Congressmen made it clear they were counting on FRC to provide them with the research they need on these issues.
9:30 A.M. MEETING WITH REPUBLICAN NATIONAL
CHAIRMAN HALEY BARBOUR
After breakfast, Jim and I walked over to the headquarters of the Republican National Committee to meet with Chairman Haley Barbour -- at his request. Dr. Dobson and I have always been willing to meet with representatives of either major party-- or anyone else for that matter-- to promote the pro-family agenda.
The meeting was interesting. As they say in diplomatic circles, there was a frank exchange of views. Haley was upset because Dr. Dobson and I had publicly questioned why pro-abortion, pro-gay- rights New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman was chosen to deliver the Republican response to the President's State of the Union address. He had also gotten word of my letter to Newt Gingrich describing the disturbing actions she has taken in her first year in office. In the letter, we cited her opposition to teaching abstinence and her yearly proclamation of "Freedom of Choice Day" to honor abortion.
The letter concluded:
11:00 A.M. PRESS CONFERENCE,
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NEWT GINGRICH
The next stop was just off the floor of the House chamber in the Capitol. Jim and I, along with former Congressman Bob McEwen, slipped into the Speaker's daily press briefing. We watched the usual lively exchange between the Speaker and the press. When it was over, Speaker Gingrich interrupted his packed schedule and invited us to meet with him in his personal office.
As we walked through the halls of the Capitol past the historical statues of American heros, I reflected on how much is at stake as the battle for the family rages on. Our Founders knew only a virtuous people could remain free. Washington still seems unable to grasp that fact.
Gingrich has tremendous pressures on him. The Speaker is second (after the Vice President) in succession to the Presidency, but he is the post powerful legislator in the Congress. As we moved through the Capitol, cameras flashed and tourists pointed at the face that has suddenly become one of the most recognizable in the land.
Our meeting with the Speaker was brief, as expected. As you can imagine, the subject mentioned above came up. So, too, did many of the items in the Republican Contract with America. Jim and I praised the key provisions of the Contract designed to provide pro-family tax relief, encourage adoption, and limit government intrusion in the family. We spoke just as candidly, however, of the moral decay gripping America, and the increasing sense among the people that our nation is off course. The Speaker's response was encouraging. But we made it clear that rhetoric wasn't enough. There must be action on the pro-family, pro-life agenda.
12:00 P.M. HOUSE DINING ROOM
The accessibility of members of the House can surprise visitors to the Capitol. After leaving the Speaker's office, Jim and I had lunch in the House Dining Room. Members have priority there, but the public is served as well. As we enjoyed lunch, members of Congress from both parties stopped by to talk. It was clear to us that the 104th Congress is full of men and women who want to do the right thing by this land we love. Time will tell if they remain true to their mission.
1:30 P.M. FRC OFFICES AND A BATTLE ROYAL
Our next stop was our "home away from home," FRC's offices located in Washington's business district between the Capitol and the White House. I sat in while Jim taped a future radio broadcast based on the day's events. He wanted to record his impressions while they were fresh.
But on this day, I didn't have long to reflect on what I'd heard. Events in Washington move too swiftly for that. Instead, my staff was fully engaged in news of the President's imminent announcement of his choice for Surgeon General of the United States. Because of that office's focus on teenage pregnancy and other sensitive issues, FRC had followed this decision closely. We were among the earliest and most persistent voices calling for the removal of its previous occupant, Dr. Joycelyn Elders.
For the remainder of the afternoon, we checked and double- checked our sources on Dr. Henry Foster, Jr. The next day, as rumored, President Clinton officially nominated him as Surgeon General. Before the announcement, our press release had been circulated across Washington and on Capitol Hill. Before nightfall, I had done two network news interviews on the nomination and the air waves were full of FRC's information that Dr. Foster was a Planned Parenthood leader, and an ardent champion of abortion on demand and school- based clinics.
Overnight, a nomination that seemed a sure thing was headed for serious trouble, all because of the painstaking work of the outstanding staff at FRC.
Of course, every day at FRC isn't as full and exciting as this one was. I shared this much detail with you about a single day because I wanted you to feel a part of it-- because surely you are. Nothing we accomplish here would be possible without your steady and heartfelt support.
Finally, let me close with the most important part of the day. After hours of meetings and conversations with the power brokers of Washington, I jumped in my car for the usual 15- mile drive home. That drive is a good prayer time for me and that night was no exception. I thanked God for the opportunities he has given us in Washington, and for this great country that I hope will become a "shining city upon a hill" as our Founders intended. As I pulled into my driveway, I also thanked him for our faithful supporters and for the family that was waiting for me on the other side of the door. Within minutes, Washington seemed far away. I was submerged in the real news of the day-- homework assignments, test grades, gymnastics competitions and the inevitable discussion of how many vegetables have to be eaten to justify dessert.
Washington and its committees are important. I promise you I will continue to represent you before the powers that be. But I am reminded very night that the most important decisions in America each day take place around the dinner table, not in Congressional hearing rooms. FRC and I will always fight for your family and for the values that are essential if this experiment in self- government is to survive.
If we haven't heard from you in a while, please drop us a note of encouragement. We count on your input and your friendship, as well as your financial support. As always, may God bless you and your family!
Family Research Council - 700 13th St., NW - Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005 - (202) 393-2100
FRC Monthly Support Newsletter provided by courtesy of Mark Conty.
Document prepared by permission, ICLnet
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