Sen. Sarbanes casts his 10,000th vote

5th-term Md. Democrat becomes 23rd senator to reach milestone

March 22, 2003|By Julie Hirschfeld Davis | Julie Hirschfeld Davis,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON-Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a fifth-term Maryland Democrat who is the state's longest-serving senator, cast his 10,000th vote yesterday, on an amendment to the 2004 budget.

Sarbanes, 70, is one of 23 senators in history to reach the milestone; 12 of them are still serving in the Senate.

His first-ever vote, on Jan. 19, 1977, was in opposition to an attempt by then-Sen. James B. Allen, an Alabama Democrat, to bring up a resolution stating that it would be "ill-advised" for the president to pardon draft-dodgers.

Two days later, newly inaugurated President Jimmy Carter - in his first official act as president - issued a mass pardon to those who evaded the draft to avoid going to Vietnam, an act that inspired deep resentment among many veterans. Sarbanes was on the losing end of that first vote, and the Senate did consider the resolution, but it rejected the measure on Jan. 25.

Sarbanes hit the 10,000 mark during a daylong series of votes known affectionately in the halls of the Senate as a "vote-a-rama."

"Reaching this historic milestone is just the latest remarkable accomplishment in what has been, by anyone's standards, an incredible American success story," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, to applause from senators and staff on the floor.

Sarbanes thanked his constituents for having "made it possible for me to be here, and exercising my judgment on important issues that come before us."

According to the Senate Library, he hit the milestone on an amendment offered by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Delaware Democrat and another member of the 10,000-vote club. The measure, rejected 52-48, would have shaved $2 billion from President Bush's tax cut proposals to pay for an additional $1 billion in spending for Community-Oriented Policing programs and $1 billion in national debt reduction. Sarbanes voted "yes."

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