Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The law was named for former White House press secretary James Brady, who survived being shot by John Lee Hinckley in an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. The act required a five-day waiting period and background check for gun purchases. The five-day waiting period was eventually eliminated in December 1998 with the institution of an instant-background-check system.
While the House of Representatives had impeached President Clinton, the Senate acquitted him on the basis that his actions—lying under oath about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky—did not constitute the “high crimes and misdemeanors” specified in the US Constitution as a condition for impeachment.
Bill Clinton was re-elected president over Republican nominee Bob Dole and Reform Party candidate Ross Perot. Though Republicans had attacked Clinton on moral issues, the President’s handling of the economy helped him capture 379 electoral votes to Dole’s 159.
The Deepwater Horizon, a deepwater oil drilling rig operated by BP, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. The explosion killed eleven workers and set off a massive offshore oil spill. Millions of barrels of crude oil rushed into the gulf for months until the leak was capped on July 15. Local fishing economies were devastated by the spill.
Just two weeks after taking office, President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, which required many employers to provide employees with unpaid, job-protected medical and family leave. Clinton declared, “Now millions of our people will no longer have to choose between their jobs and their families.”
Nominated by President Clinton and unanimously confirmed by the US Senate, Madeleine Albright was sworn in as the first female secretary of state, making her the highest ranking woman ever in United States government.
Nearly a month after election day, George W. Bush was declared winner of the presidential election over Democratic nominee Al Gore with 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 267. Gore won more popular votes than Bush, but Bush had taken twenty-five key electoral votes in Florida, where a recount was set in motion. On December 4, the federal district court ruled to certify the existing count, a ruling upheld by the US Supreme Court. Florida officials ended the recount and declared Bush the winner of Florida’s electoral votes.
In a close race, George W. Bush was re-elected president over Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Bush earned 286 electoral votes and 51 percent of the popular vote to Kerry’s 252 electoral votes and 48 percent popular; Independent Ralph Nader took the last 1 percent of the popular vote.
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana, causing the city’s levees to break. Overwhelmed by unprecedented flooding, New Orleans residents attempted to evacuate the city but many were trapped in the city or crammed into the shelter set up at the Superdome. Katrina led to hundreds of deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. While President Bush ordered troops for the evacuation effort on September 1 and increased assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Administration, Bush’s failure to address Katrina more...