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Reflections Project

Departing Members of Congress Assess the Institution

The Brademas Center has already conducted several interviews, led by Linda Douglass, a Senior Fellow of the Center and former chief Capitol Hill correspondent for ABC News. These include:

Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL)

Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL)

Former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and, later, the House International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde (R-IL) retired at the end of the 109th Congress after serving for 31 years. On July 17, 2006, he was interviewed in his Washington Office as part of the Reflections Project, and was asked about a range of issues including his memories of early days in Congress, his legislation banning federal funding for abortions, the impeachment of President Clinton, the effect of media coverage on Congress, the quality of Congress's decision-making capacity, the relations between the political parties, the effect constant fundraising has on Congress and more.


Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX)

Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX)

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) resigned from Congress in June, 2006 after serving for 21 years. As part of the Reflections Project, on July 19, 2006, he talked about a wide range of topics, including the Republican takeover of the House in the 1994 elections, the impeachment of President Clinton, Republican dominance of the Washington lobbying industry known as “K Street,” the rise of social conservatism, the increased partisanship and polarization between Republicans and Democrats, his view of his own role and more.


Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX)

Representative Bill Thomas (R-CA)

Former House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) retired at the close of the 109th Congress in 2006 after serving for 27 years. On September 9, 2006, Brademas Center Senior Fellow Linda Douglass and a select group of students interviewed him at the Library of Congress. They covered many subjects, including changes in Congress after Republicans took over after 1994, the ability of Republicans and Democrats to work together, the battle to reform Social Security, the controversial vote on the landmark Medicare prescription drug entitlement, why Members decide to retire, relations between the House and Senate and more.


Representative Sherwood Boehlert  (R-NY)

Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY)

Former House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) retired at the end of the 109th Congress after serving for 23 years. On October 12, 2006, Brademas Center Senior Fellow Linda Douglass and a select group of NYU students interviewed Boehlert on the NYU campus. They covered many subjects, including the rise in partisanship in the House, the political moderates' struggle to influence policy, intra-party battles over environmental legislation, the vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq, battles over the Bush administration's use of scientific data, Congress's image, the role of lobbyists and more.


Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)

Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)

During his 26 years in Congress, Tom Daschle (D-SD) served in the House and later the Senate, as both Majority Leader and Minority Leader. He was defeated in the 2002 election. On October 19, 2006, he participated in the Reflections Project in his Washington office and discussed a wide range of issues, including the contested election of George Bush over Al Gore, his own relationship with Bush, the 50-50 Senate, the events during and after 9/11, the Democrats' vote to support the use of force in Iraq, the impeachment of President Clinton, his relations with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and more.


Representative Major Owens (D-NY)

Representative Major Owens (D-NY)

Representative Major Owens (D-NY) retired at the end of the 109th Congress, after serving for 23 years. In his Capitol Hill office on October 31, 2006, he discussed many issues, including the personalities of various presidents, the changing character of the Congressional Black Caucus, his pride in being labeled a “liberal”, corruption in Congress and more.


Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)

Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)

The Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) retired at the end of the 109th Congress. He was interviewed by Brademas Center Senior Fellow Linda Douglass and a select group of NYU students on the NYU campus on December 5, 2006. They covered many topics, including his views on partisanship in Congress, his opinions of Republican leaders, the rise of social conservatism, the battle over immigration reform and Social Security, his encounters with various presidents, the state of homeland security, his experience as the only openly gay Republican House member and more.


Representative Martin Sabo (D-MN)

Representative Martin Sabo (D-MN)

Former Budget Committee Chairman Martin Sabo (D-MN) retired at the end of the 109th Congress. He was interviewed by Brademas Center Senior Fellow Linda Douglass and a select group of students on Capitol Hill on December 6, 2006. They covered many topics, including his views on the rising divisiveness in Congress, the challenges of balancing the federal budget, the battle for comprehensive health coverage, his opinions on the state of homeland security and more.

About the Project


To establish a public record of the first-person accounts, opinions, anecdotes and reflections of Members who retire from office each term, The Brademas Center has announced a new initiative, "The Reflections Project: Departing Members of Congress Assess the Institution." Beginning the summer of 2006, we will ask departing and newly retired Members to look back on their careers, some spanning up to 30 years, and to explore what they have learned about the country and the institution. This material will help scholars track the evolving nature and decision-making capacity of Congress, and could potentially contain observations that could lead to other research projects at the Center and at other institutions across the nation. It is our goal for the Brademas Center to become the main repository for Members’ exit interviews. Ultimately, the Center would like to build enough resources for this project to reach out to all Members as they leave office. 

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