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2003: War and ‘Freedom’ on Capitol Hill

The year 2003 featured a bevy of stories that spanned the gamut from the start of the Iraq war to the conviction of then-Rep. Bill Janklow (R-S.D.), from Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) dramatic redistricting of the Lone Star State to the battle on taking the “French” out of fries and toast in the Capitol Hill cafeterias, just to name a few.

Some highlights of the early part of 2003 included then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s (S.D.) surprise announcement that he would not run for the Democratic presidential ticket. On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was just getting his feet wet with his new job as Majority Leader. He looked for advice from “the man he helped dethrone,” Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.). Lott was ousted from his leadership role in 2002 following his comments about retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond’s (R-S.C.) 1948 presidential run on a segregationist platform.

In the spring, President Bush and Congress decided to go to war, though Roll Call reported that some Members were hesitant to do so.

“Despite differences of opinion throughout Congress on whether military action is justified, leaders seemed to be in unison on the tone and language of any resolution” on the war.

Anti-French sentiment at the start of the war prompted a debate on whether to use the word “freedom” in place of “French” on the menus in the House cafeterias and dining halls.

“Responding to France’s opposition within the U.N. Security Council to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Capitol Hill eateries … banned the term ‘French’ from their menus earlier this year at the behest of Reps. Walter Jones Jr. and Bob Ney.”

In September 2003 Janklow was charged with second-degree manslaughter, reckless driving, running a stop sign and speeding following a car accident in which he fatally injured a motorcyclist.

The DeLay-led redistricting of Texas closed the year. The plan “radically altered the makeup of the state’s House delegation.” The redistricting effort led to the defeat of four incumbent Democratic Members.

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