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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2012

7 - Connecting Constituency Change to Institutional Change


The year 2001 was supposed to be the pinnacle of her congressional career. After Congresswoman Marge Roukema, a moderate Republican and dean of the New Jersey delegation, survived two tough primary challenges by Scott Garrett in 1998 and 2000, her sights were set firmly on increasing her prestige and power inside the House of Representatives. Roukema expected to become chair of the Banking Committee when the current chairman reached his three-term limit, which the Republicans imposed on full committee chairs when they took over the House in 1995. Her elevation would mark the first time in history that a woman would chair a major full committee in the House of Representatives.

Although she had not always been a loyal Republican team player, Roukema had burnished her banking and Republican credentials in leading up to the Banking Committee transition. Would-be Speaker Bill Livingston, in 1998, asked her to co-chair his transition team. Following his untimely demise in the wake of Clinton's impeachment, Roukema became an early and vociferous proponent of future Speaker Dennis Hastert. Additionally, Roukema – a former teacher – went back to school herself and amassed an impressive amount of knowledge about the financial sector of the American economy. She had long been an important member on the Banking Committee and played a crucial role in the 1999 law that overhauled the rules and regulations in the financial services industry.

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