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Republican Takeover Means Nothing Can Be Taken for Granted

November 18, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Now that Republicans are taking over on Capitol Hill, nothing can be taken for granted.

Just ask Ron Brown, the secretary of commerce.

Some Republicans consider his department expendable.

In fact, the next House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. John Kasich, R- Ohio, has said he does not believe the Commerce Department is needed because parts of it duplicate the work of the U.S. Trade Representative and other agencies.

An unsuccessful 1994 budget-cutting proposal co-authored by Kasich proposed rolling Commerce and other departments into a single agency.

So is Commerce headed for the chopping block?

″We have not decided what we’re going to do in our 1996 budget proposal,″ said Kasich spokesman Bruce Cuthbertson. ″Everything is on the table except Social Security.″

Asked Friday whether he’s worried about his department’s future, Brown initially waved off the question, saying ″I think it’s laughable.″

After he had time to think about it, he called back.

″I would like to say that if the proposal was not made seriously by Congressman Kasich I might respond by calling it laughable,″ Brown said. ″I’ve been around long enough to know you don’t make silly statements and have somebody forget that you made them - I should never have said laughable.″

He added, ″It is interesting that he is evidently targeting the department that by any objective measure has been most effective in performing its mission of increasing economic growth and job creation and also the department that has the smallest budget of any department of the federal government.″

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