After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as a minority party, House Republicans are ready to slash and burn what they see as a bloated federal bureaucracy. The next two years will demonstrate just how powerful the legislative branch can be when both House and Senate are controlled by a strong-willed party on a mission. Electric industry officials seem optimistic, but cautious, about this Republican revolution. "We're all trying to read the tea leaves," said Patricia Schaub, director of federal governmental relations for Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
Republicans will spend their first 100 days focusing on the regulatory reforms in the "Contract with America." Next on their list is the fiscal 1996 budget resolution, due in mid-April, which will entail difficult spending decisions. Little else, including energy legislation, is expected to move very far until late spring. Industry officials believe they must complete their legislative goals, or at least make a good start, by the end of this year (em before Congress and the White House turn their attention to partisan politics and the 1996 presidential elections and early primaries.