Republican congressional candidates agree to support party's plan for '95

September 30, 1994|By Capital News Service

WASHINGTON -- All of Maryland's Republican congressional candidates swore support this week for their party's 10-point plan for 1995.

The eight were among the 300 Republican congressmen and challengers who signed a Contract with America. It pledges to force a vote in the House during the first 100 days of the new term on a constitutional amendment to balance the budget, and on bills to streamline the death penalty appeals process and impose congressional term limits.

Republican Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Frederick, Wayne T. Gilchrest of Kennedyville and Constance A. Morella of Bethesda were among the Marylanders who signed the pact.

All three said they believe in most of the points outlined in the 10 reforms, but more importantly support the idea of bringing these issues to the floor for discussion and voting.

"It crystallizes what Americans want the country doing. This is what the polls say they want done," said Mr. Bartlett, who represents all of Carroll, parts of Howard and Montcomery counties and all of Western Maryland.

"Who could argue with getting our streets back . . . a stronger military . . . or with leaving more money with American families?" ++ he asked. "It's the agenda I campaigned on."

Mrs. Morella said she, too, is enthusiastic about addressing the issues.

"There are issues that haven't seen the light of day," she said. "If the Republicans are in the majority, they [the issues] will come out and be dealt with and voted upon."

Added Mr. Gilchrest: "I don't agree with everything, but this is going in a very positive direction. The people can follow where we're going."

The contract also would impose several congressional changes, such as a requirement of a two-thirds vote, rather than a simple pTC majority, to pass any bills that would raise taxes.

By committing to the agenda, Republicans are hoping to fill vacant House seats in November and recapture their first majority in 42 years. The contract will only be effective if there is a Republican majority in the House, said Anne Gavin, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Democrats running in Maryland, meanwhile, were quick to dismiss the contract.

Former state Del. Paul Muldowney, a Washington County Democrat challenging Mr. Bartlett, said many of the spending items are just "blue smoke and mirrors."

He questioned Mr. Bartlett's loyalty to his constituents.

"I don't make pledges within the Beltway," Mr. Muldowney said. "I will only have an obligation to the people in the 6th District."

Mr. Muldowney added that some elements of the package are contradictory.

"The defense spending and family tax plan both will increase the deficit and for them to say they want a balanced budget amendment is contradicting," he said.

The package includes provisions restoring funds to national security.

The package also includes a family tax relief plan that includes a $500-per-child tax credit. To reinforce the family structure, the contract would enforce child support collections, provide tax incentives for adoption and enact stronger child pornography laws.

Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Mitchellville said the agenda is a special-interest ploy and a Republican attempt to buy votes.

"I know my constituents in Southern Maryland demand and deserve real results, not a public relations gimmick that mocks their priorities," said Mr. Hoyer, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "My advice to those candidates on the [Capitol] steps . . . is this: Defy the party bosses. . . . Go home. Listen to your neighbors instead."

Other proposals outlined in the agenda seek to create small business incentives, provide capital gains cuts, prohibit welfare for mothers under 18 and make general cuts in welfare. Anti-crime provisions would streamline the death penalty appeals process, require at least 10-year sentences for crimes committed with guns and cut social spending from the crime bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement.

Maryland GOP challengers Don Devine, Robert Ehrlich, Robert Tousey, Michelle Dyson and Ken Kondner also signed the contract.

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