Survey of lawmakers' voting records shows Bartlett favoring small businesses


WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett has voted consistently for small-business interests, unlike Democratic Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Kweisi Mfume, according to a recent report by the the National Federation of Independent Business.

The report rated Congress members on key votes cast during 1993 and early 1994.

Eight votes were studied for House members; 13 for senators.

Among the issues surveyed last week by the group -- the largest small-business federation in the country -- were family and medical leave, tax increases and deficit reduction, and property rights.

The report said Mr. Bartlett, a Frederick resident who represents Carroll and is a member of the federation, voted as the group would have wanted on all eight votes, for a 100 percent rating.

Mr. Cardin and Mr. Mfume shared the lowest ratings of the Maryland delegation, the report said. The Baltimore congressmen did not vote for the federation position on any of the eight bills studied.

Mr. Cardin said Wednesday night that he was not too concerned by the rating.

"I've been one of the most outspoken individuals" for small business, he said. "The local business community in Baltimore knows my real commitment."

Mr. Mfume was unavailable for comment, a staff member said.

The federation position is determined by a vote of members, all small-business owners.

The federation opposed mandated family and medical leave. The law requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with benefits for a worker's sickness, or an illness in his or her family. Adoptions or births in a family would also qualify workers for leave.

The measure, Mr. Bartlett said, "produced an environment that could put businesses out of business."

Mr. Cardin said the measure "had no impact on small businesses." He said the 50-employee requirement assured they wouldn't be affected.

The federation also opposed bills that raised taxes for any reason. For instance, the federation opposed a 1994 budget reconciliation bill enacted by Congress, raising taxes $241 billion and cutting spending $255 billion.

And the group supported an amendment -- passed by the House but stuck in a Senate committee -- setting up strict guidelines to protect business owners from surprise government-imposed environmental action on private property.

Other members of the Maryland delegation fell somewhere between the 0 and 100 percent extremes, the report said.

Rep. Constance A. Morella, a Montgomery County Republican, voted with the federation five times, for a 63 percent rating. She voted against the federation on the family leave issue because she does not believe the bill "will hurt small business to do the things that will help them retain employees and create loyalty" in the long run, said spokeswoman Mary Anne Leary.

Republican Reps. Wayne T. Gilchrest of the Eastern Shore and Helen Delich Bentley of Baltimore County each voted with the federation on seven of eight votes, for 88 percent ratings.

Mr. Gilchrest said he is trying to preserve the balance between labor and business. "You can't always look at business as the enemy," he said.

Democratic Reps. Steny H. Hoyer and Albert R. Wynn, both of Prince George's County, voted with the federation once, for 13 percent ratings.

Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski, both Baltimore Democrats, voted with the federation on three of 13 votes, for 23 percent ratings.

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