Bartlett and Morella: 2 GOP votes, each often canceling the other

THE POLITICAL GAME

December 22, 1993|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Call them the bookends of House Republicans.

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Western Maryland came to Washington this year as an unabashed conservative. According to a new analysis, he lived up to his billing while becoming one of the most reliable Republican votes.

Meantime, his GOP colleague, Rep. Constance A. Morella of Montgomery County, was the most unreliable, opposing her party more often than she supported it.

The annual analysis of Capitol Hill votes by Congressional Quarterly, a respected weekly journal, also makes it clear that Maryland has sent to Washington two of the most partisan Democrats in the Senate.

The analysis of 1993 House roll-calls shows that Mr. Bartlett had the highest percentage of votes in support of GOP unity -- more than House Republican leader Robert H. Michel, more than party whip Newt Gingrich, more than all but two of the 175 House Republicans.

On 99 percent of the party-line votes, Mr. Bartlett, along with Reps. Melton D. Hancock of Missouri and Bob Stump of Arizona, voted the GOP line. Mr. Michel went with his party 93 percent of the time; Mr. Gingrich, 94 percent.

At the other end of the scale, Mrs. Morella voted against the majority of her party 52 percent of the time -- making her the only Republican to oppose the GOP on a majority of party-line votes.

Both Mr. Bartlett and Mrs. Morella say they vote on the merits of issues, without regard to party loyalty.

In supporting President Clinton, Mrs. Morella ranked second among Republicans behind Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert of New York. She voted with the president 72 percent of the time.

Mr. Bartlett, on the other hand, voted against the president 65 percent of the time. Some of his colleagues were much more anti-Clinton, voting against Mr. Clinton 83 percent of the time.

Mrs. Morella says she disagrees with Mr. Clinton on many fiscal issues, "but on social issues, the president probably agrees with me" often. She finds it ironic that her support for Mr. Clinton involves some bills -- like family leave -- that she has backed for years only to see them blocked by a Republican president.

Mr. Bartlett says, "I would be pleased if I could vote with the president." That would mean, he added, that Mr. Clinton would be following the conservative path he treads.

On the Democratic side, the analysis shows that Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes are highly reliable Democratic votes.

Mr. Sarbanes had the highest score on party unity -- 98 percent -- which he shared with Maine Sen. George J. Mitchell, the Senate Democratic leader. Ms. Mikulski voted with her party 92 percent of the time.

The first session of the 103rd Congress saw Mr. Clinton achieve a level of congressional support rarely seen in the last 40 years. Congressional Quarterly said he was supported 86.4 percent of the time, a figure exceeded only by Dwight D. Eisenhower's 89 percent in 1953, his first year in office, and the 88 percent rung up by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, his second full year as president.

With a Democrat in the White House, Congress this year passed a number of bills considered important to Democrats, including the Brady bill, family leave, Hatch Act changes to permit greater participation by federal employees in politics and a bill to provide tuition grants for students in exchange for participation in community service.

In the House, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland, who as chairman of the Democratic Caucus is a member of the leadership, backed Mr. Clinton on 94 percent of the votes. Only four of the 258 Democrats were more supportive.

But, Mr. Hoyer also voted frequently with the "conservative coalition" of Republicans and Southern "boll weevil" Democrats who were crucial to some of Ronald Reagan's biggest victories. This year the coalition appeared in only 9 percent of the roll-calls, what Congressional Quarterly called "a near-record low."

Mr. Hoyer voted with the coalition 59 percent of the time, much more often than other Maryland Democrats and more often than Mrs. Morella.

Representing a conservative district, Mr. Hoyer seemed pleased the analysis, claiming this was not an inconsistent pattern.

"I try to approach issues with what I think are common sense equations as opposed to knee-jerk ideological equations," he said. "Now there are some things I feel very strongly about and people will say, 'Oh, well, he's a liberal.' That's why I don't -- most politicians don't -- like these labels because they're so simplistic."

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