1997 News of the Nation
In mid-summer, no longer content with fighting across the aisle, Republicans began taking aim at their own members. In late July, a group of dissidents decided to hold a no-confidence vote to oust the party leader Newt Gingrich from his post as House Speaker. The handling of the disaster-aid bill was cited as an example of the Speaker's inability to lead the party. The coup was aborted, however, and Tom Delay, Republican majority whip, and Bill Paxon, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, resigned their party positions and apologized to party members.
In a separate incident, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) refused to hold confirmation hearings for fellow-Republican Gov. William Weld of Massachusetts, Clinton's nominee for ambassador to Mexico. Helms claimed that Weld was too soft on drugs, which would prove troublesome in an ambassadorial role for a country with an acknowledged drug problem. Weld did not go quietly into that dark night, however, and took his case to the media, stirring controversy and ill-will before conceding defeat.