WASHINGTON -- Maryland's U.S. senators are among the most liberal in the nation, according to a survey of voting records compiled by the Americans for Democratic Action.
ADA, a liberal public policy organization based in Washington, rated senators on the basis of 20 votes taken in 1991 on such topics as campaign finance reform, extension of unemployment benefits, sanctions against Iraq and the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
The votes were rated according to ADA's position on the issues.
The combined score of Maryland's senators, Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, both Democrats, was 95 percent, tying for first place with the Massachusetts senators.
Mr. Sarbanes was one of four senators dubbed a "hero" by the organization for scoring 100 percent on the survey, released this weekend.
Ms. Mikulski fell short of heroic status with a 90 percent rating.
One strike against her came from a "no" vote on a crime bill amendment that would have replaced the death penalty with mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
Ms. Mikulski also lost points with ADA by voting against a motion to transfer funds from the Defense Department to certain social programs.
Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, received a 100 percent score. Sen. Robert Kerrey, D-Neb., the only other presidential candidate currently serving in Congress, scored 75 percent.
In a similar survey of House of Representatives released by ADA this month, a Marylander, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, was one of 20 to receive a 100 percent rating.
The scores of the House members from Maryland did not always reflect party affiliation.
Rep. Helen Bentley, a Republican representing the 2nd District, and Rep. Beverly Byron, a Democrat from the 6th, both voted with ADA 25 percent of the time.
Republican Rep. Constance Morella of the 8th District cast "liberal" votes 65 percent of the time, according to the ADA, while Rep. Tom McMillen, a Democrat from the 4th District, voted with the ADA agenda 50 percent of the time.
Other delegates came closer to following the party lines.
Democrats Steny Hoyer of the 5th District and Benjamin L. Cardin of the 3rd District received 80 percent and 75 percent ratings respectively, while Republican Wayne Gilchrist of the 1st District was rated at 20 percent.
ADA, which bills itself as the nation's oldest liberal public policy organization, has been monitoring congressional voting records since 1947.