Md. House members vote to override spending veto


WASHINGTON -- The entire Maryland congressional delegation voted to override the president's veto of the continuing spending bill last night, including Representative Beverly B. Byron, D-Md.-6th -- who voted against the measure less than 24 hours earlier.

"I'm just as comfortable with that vote," said the Frederick Democrat, explaining that she was concerned about the effect of a government shutdown on federal employees, many of whom are in her constituency.

Mrs. Byron opposes such "continuing resolutions" that keep the government in operation for a short period because they could continue "indefinitely and not accomplish anything," an aide said earlier.

But yesterday was a different story after she received early-morning calls from jittery federal workers. More public employees approached her yesterday during a parade in her district, she said.

"The federal employees should be at work," said Mrs. Byron.

"They're angry, they're ticked off, they're in limbo," added Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th, whose Prince George's district also is home to many federal workers.

"We cannot shut the federal government down," said Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, after voting in favor of the unsuccessful motion to override.

But she said she would have sided with fellow Republican George Bush if there was a danger that the override would have succeeded.

"If they needed my vote, I would have been with the president," admitted Mrs. Bentley, one of the last House members to cast her ballot. "They didn't need me."

Representative Kweisi Mfume, D-Md.-7th, urged his colleagues to override the veto and "allow this body another week to work its will."

"People are questioning the ability of this institution," said Mr. Mfume, one of three Maryland lawmakers who voted against the budget agreement.

Mr. Mfume argued that the agreement was too much of a burden on the poor, the middle class and especially the elderly, who were faced with increases in Medicare payments. Representative Roy P. Dyson, D-Md.-1st, and Mrs. Bentley also voted against the budget accord, citing similar reasons.

Mrs. Byron, who was standing with Mrs. Bentley after the vote yesterday, chided Republicans for voting against the budget plan. "The Republicans were the ones who sank the budget," said Mrs. Byron, as Mrs. Bentley objected, "Come on, Beverly."

"We've got to do better with the budget," said Mrs. Bentley as she strode back into the House chamber.

Mr. Hoyer, head of the Democratic Caucus, said the next budget agreement would be "more general" and would leave any tax questions up to the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. But he predicted that the agreement would address the Medicare issue "because that was such a hot button."

Many of the callers dialing Representative Benjamin L. Cardin's office over the past few days criticized the Medicare increases. Others complained that "the middle class and the working class get clubbed and the wealthy get off easy," said an aide to the Baltimore Democrat.

Mr. Cardin, a member of the Health Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, met yesterday with his colleagues to try to reduce the Medicare increases.

The budget agreement called for the Medicare premiums to rise from the current $26.80 per month to $33.50 next year, with the deductible to increase from the current $75 to $150 over three years. Now the subcommittee is talking about the premiums rising to $30.90 next year and preventing the deductible from going over $100, Mr. Cardin said.

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