Md. delegation faces uncertainty after split vote


WASHINGTON -- Following the defeat of the budget accord, the mood among Maryland representatives on Capitol Hill was one of uncertainty and some bewilderment.

"It's just a lot of uncertainty," said Representative Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd. "We're all working to try and be constructive to put together a package. It's going to be difficult."

Mr. Cardin supported the failed agreement, as did four other House members from Maryland -- Tom McMillen, D-4th; Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th; Beverly B. Byron, D-6th; and Constance A. Morella, R-8th.

As he walked from the Capitol early yesterday morning, Mr. McMillen said the defeat was one of the most "unfortunate" votes he had witnessed in his four years in Washington. An aide to Mr. Hoyer said there was great frustration among all members.

Representatives Roy P. Dyson, D-1st, Helen Delich Bentley, R-2nd, and Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, cast votes against the deficit-cutting plan, all saying it was too burdensome on the poor, middle-class and the elderly.

The package would have raised Medicare premiums and deductibles, as well as the excise tax on liquor, cigarettes and gasoline.

"We're getting calls of congratulations," said an aide to Mrs. Bentley. But her office and others also reported calls from worried federal workers wondering if the failure to forge an agreement will mean furloughs.

"How could you do this?" the aide quoted one federal worker as saying. "We're going to be out on the street."

Some of the most vociferous attacks against the plan came from the elderly and their lobbying groups against the increases in the premiums and deductibles for Medicare beneficiaries.

Mr. Cardin, a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said there was support among Democrats for trimming the proposed Medicare increases in exchange for perhaps cutting tax breaks for small businesses and energy conservation.

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