Invasion Of The BusinesspolsRichard S. Dunham
TOO MANY LAWYERS MAKING laws? That longstanding complaint against Capitol Hill has been remedied, at least in the House. For the first time in decades, businesspeople will outnumber lawyers there. When the new Congress convenes in January, there will be 191 with business, banking, or real estate listed as their calling, compared to 170 attorneys. That's because the new crop of GOP-dominated House freshmen is top-heavy with business types: 64, in fact, with only 28 attorneys.
The shift could have major policy implications on issues ranging from business tax breaks to tort reform. "It's great that we'll have so many people who have signed the front side of a paycheck," says Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour.
Among the prominent lawyer-losers in November House races are Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wash.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Tex.). The newest businesspeople-turned-pols include Dick Chrysler (R-Mich.), the owner of an auto-accessory company; Wes Cooley (R-Ore.), the co-owner of a nutritional-supplement distributor; and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), a real estate broker. While Republicans took back the Senate, as well, they didn't end the chamber's lawyerly majority. Fifty-four senators hold law degrees, exactly twice the number of biz folk. Seven of the 11 Senate GOP freshmen are lawyers.