Clinton trial certain to be a hot ticket

Senators have four daily for spouses, constituents

January 07, 1999|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Maryland's two senators represent about 6 million people who live in the state's 23 counties and Baltimore. Yet each senator has just four tickets to distribute to Marylanders who want to observe the president's Senate trial from inside the chamber.

Under rules issued yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, each senator will be given one permanent seat in the visitors' gallery and three rotating seats, which are supposed to be yielded after a brief time in the chamber.

Fifty other seats will be reserved for the public, on a first-come, first-served basis. Those tickets will be available each day, an hour before the trial's start.

Twenty-five seats will be set aside for radio and television correspondents, 82 seats will be held for reporters for daily newspapers, and 13 will be reserved for other periodicals.

Excluding reporters, there are 596 seats for visitors in the chamber. In addition to the tickets assigned to each senator, an undetermined number will be given to Senate leaders to distribute.

Such scarcity is likely to set off a scramble for seats, in the halls of the Senate and in the offices of senators.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, did not return calls inquiring how the senator's allotment of tickets would be distributed.

Jesse Jacobs, a spokesman for Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, said Senate aides would not be allowed on the chamber floor during deliberations, during which senators are to sit silently as jurors. Because of that, Jacobs said, Sarbanes' three rotating tickets will be given, at least for today, to staff members so they can observe the trial's start from the chamber.

"That's only for tomorrow," Jacobs said last night. "We have not discussed it beyond that."

The permanent ticket allotted to senators, Jacobs said, is intended for their spouses. Jacobs said he did not know whether Christine Sarbanes, the senator's wife, intended to watch today's proceedings.

Pub Date: 1/07/99

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