Md. lawmakers are split on GOP 'contract'

April 09, 1995|By Capital News Service

WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett voted with House Speaker Newt Gingrich on every provision of the GOP's "Contract with America" -- a claim no other member of the Maryland delegation can make.

"We've kind of made a down payment on what we owe the people," said Mr. Bartlett, who represents Carroll County and Western Maryland, after the House completed work on the 10 contract provisions a week ahead of the 100-day schedule.

"We kept the promises, and we really started to change the direction of the country."

Rep. Constance A. Morella, a Montgomery County Republican, can stake a claim of a different sort. She opposed the speaker on the contract provisions more times than any of her Maryland Republican colleagues.

"It helps the vitality of the party to have different opinions," Mrs. Morella said. "Otherwise, they're just like the circus elephants" that paraded in front of the Capitol last week for honorary ringmaster Gingrich.

Mrs. Morella opposed four major contract provisions, including term limits for members of Congress, welfare reform, tax cuts and a national security measure.

She also voted against pieces of the crime and regulatory reform packages.

Among the other bills the House voted on were measures forcing Congress to comply with many of the same workplace laws it imposes on others; a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution; and legislation limiting the costs imposed on state and local governments by federal regulations.

Of the 10 key House votes, nine were successful. Only limiting members' terms in Congress failed.

Republican Reps. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Baltimore County and Wayne T. Gilchrest of the Eastern Shore had nearly perfect contract records.

Mr. Gilchrest opposed only one piece of regulatory reform.

Mr. Ehrlich voted against term limits for members of Congress, LTC and one piece of legal reform.

He and other House Republicans point to the contract as bringing respect back to Congress.

Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Prince George's County disagreed.

"This contract isn't about the interests and instincts of the real people of the 5th Congressional District," he said. "This contract has been all about a tax cut for the wealthy."

Mr. Hoyer joined the other three Maryland House Democrats in voting with the party leadership -- and typically against the Republicans -- on almost every major contract measure. There ++ were a few exceptions.

Mr. Hoyer voted with the Republican leaders -- and against his own party's -- in supporting a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

He said at the time the amendment is necessary because "the longer you wait, the deeper into debt you get and the more adverse the effects when you try to get out."

Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore voted with the Republican leadership to support limiting death penalty appeals and to give the president power to veto line items in the budget.

Democratic Rep. Albert R. Wynn of Prince George's County also voted for the line-item veto. He opposed leadership of both parties by voting against cuts in congressional staffs and a piece of the legal reform package.

Democratic Rep. Kweisi Mfume of Baltimore also opposed one piece of legal reform. He also opposed both parties' leadership in voting against unfunded mandates.

The Senate has passed only a few contract elements, including the congressional accountability and unfunded mandates bills -- signed into law by President Clinton -- and the line-item veto. It rejected the balanced budget amendment.

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