Anti-budget lawmaker wound up voting for it

August 07, 1993|By Jodi Enda | Jodi Enda,Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- When Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky took those few lonely steps past screaming colleagues and signed the green card that represented her last-minute vote for President Clinton's budget, she knew she might be walking the political plank.

Her ballot helped provide President Clinton a two-vote victory margin in the House.

Yesterday, as her office phones shrieked and Republicans tagged her "taxpayer enemy No. 1," the first-term Democrat from Pennsylvania remained calm and resolute.

Ms. Margolies-Mezvinsky had insisted for months -- and up until a couple hours before the vote -- that she would oppose the president's economic plan.

She had pledged during a tight election last year that she would stand against the type of tax increase this budget would deliver. She had told the president himself last spring that she would not cave in to pressure.

Then, Thursday night, Mr. Clinton called her off the House floor. She picked up the phone in the "red room" at the back of the chamber and listened as the president agreed to her demand that he and other top officials come to her well-to-do, suburban Philadelphia district to begin taking a hard look at slashing social programs.

Moments later, she and Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., who had also declared he would vote against the president, cast their votes, without which the centerpiece of Clinton's presidency would have collapsed.

Yesterday, Ms. Margolies-Mezvinsky said she was satisfied she had done more for the country than many a "spineless" lawmaker before her.

She had started the ball rolling, she said, on cutting several emotion-laden programs that keep the United States in debt: welfare, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"I feel that if I can come to Congress as a freshman woman and actually get on the table, in a meaningful way, something that the Democrats and the Republicans have failed to address for years and years and years, then I have accomplished a tremendous amount," Ms. Margolies-Mezvinsky said.

Republicans began gleefully to plot and predict Ms. Margolies-Mezvinsky's demise. "I watched someone cash in their principles, cash in their constituents for their party's continued domination in Congress," said Rep. Bill Paxon R-N.Y.

VOTES IN HOUSE

President Clinton's hairbreadth, two-vote margin of victory on his deficit-reduction plan in the House late Thursday night broke down this way: * 218 in favor, 216 against. There is one vacancy in the 435-member House.

* Voting yes were 217 Democrats, 1 independent and no Republicans.

* Voting no were 41 Democrats and 175 Republicans.

Maryland's delegation in the House of Representatives voted along party lines.

The totals:

* Democrats: Benjamin L. Cardin, 3rd, yes; Steny H. Hoyer, 5th, yes; Kweisi Mfume, 7th, yes; Albert R. Wynn, 4th, yes.

* Republicans: Roscoe G. Bartlett, 6th, no; Helen Delich Bentley, 2nd, no; Wayne T. Gilchrest, 1st, no; Constance A. Morella, 8th, no.

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