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Jane Lakes Harman Banner

Leaving Congress

Partisanship has replaced policy.

President Clinton flanked by Jane Harman and her daughter Hilary Frank behind Daniel and Justine Harman, 19 March 1994.

Jane and Sidney Harman with President Clinton, 13 October 1994.

Jane Harman listening to President Clinton's State of the Union Address, 23 January 1996.

U.S. House. Representative Jane Harman's Farewell Address, 105th Congress, 2nd session, 12 October 1998.

At the end of six years in Congress, Harman was most proud of the role she played in the South Bay's economic recovery and in creating a federal budget that was in surplus for the first time in a generation. But the increasing partisan politics of Congress under House Speaker Newt Gingrich, particularly the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, troubled her. In her farewell remarks to Congress, Harman said: "The major disappointment during my tenure has been the deteriorating tone of debate in the House. . . . Partisanship has replaced policy as the focus of attention." She was particularly disappointed at the successful efforts of the 104th and 105th Congresses "to roll back Constitutionally-protected rights, particularly reproductive rights."

Jane Harman with the Blue Dog Coalition, October 1998.

Jane Harman with Congressional Surfing Caucus Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (left) and Brian Bilbray (right), 17 July 1998.

During her first three terms in Congress, Harman was a member of the congressional Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate-conservative Democrats who are active on fiscal issues, particularly a balanced budget. She also joined the congressional Surfing Caucus in 1998 after her staff gave her a surfboard for her fifty-third birthday. She was not only the first Democrat on the Surfing Caucus, but also the first woman member. "As a gender-integrated and bipartisan organization," Harman proclaimed, "the Caucus will be able to make even bigger waves in Congress." Rohrabacher, the Caucus founder, quipped: "With her political experience, Jane is ready for the real shark-infested waters."

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