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Tri-State congressmen say they'll vote party lines

December 15, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

As callers flooded their local and Washington, D.C., offices with opinions on impeachment Monday, Tri-State area members of the U.S. House of Representatives pondered one of the most momentous votes of their careers.

At least two area legislators have decided how they will vote on the articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives will consider this week.

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U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., who signed a letter calling for an impeachment probe before the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal broke, said he plans to vote for all four impeachment articles. Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va., came out against impeachment.

Aides to Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., did not return calls on Monday.

The House Judiciary Committee approved four articles of impeachment against President Clinton, accusing him of perjury in the Paula Jones deposition and other abuses of power.

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The House will convene Thursday for the first presidential impeachment vote in 130 years. Approval of a single article would lead to a Senate trial.

A two-thirds vote of the Senate would be required to remove the president from office.

"This is a very sad time in our nation's history," Bartlett said in a statement. "I take no pleasure in the impeachment process, but I will not turn my back on my sworn duty as a member of the House of Representatives."

Wise, who was publicly undecided last week and has called President's Clinton's actions "deplorable," said he would vote for censure, but not impeachment.

A Wise spokesman said the congressman reserved judgment until after the Judiciary Committee approved four articles of impeachment.

In his statement, Bartlett said censure is not an option the House should consider. It is the constitutional duty of the Senate, not the House, to determine punishment, he said.

Constituents on both sides of the impeachment issue deluged their representatives on Monday, jamming the Capitol switchboard most of the day.

Rita M. Downs, an aide in Bartlett's Hagerstown office, said the office received so many calls and faxes that it interrupted normal case work.

"It's probably about the fourth time we had this block of calls," she said.

Downs said sentiment was about 2-1 in favor of impeachment.

Sallie Taylor, a spokeswoman in Bartlett's Washington office, said the congressman received more than 100 calls and faxes on Monday. The majority were from the 6th District, but many were from elsewhere.

"We've been hearing from people everywhere in the country," she said.

Taylor said the office only keeps track of opinions from constituents. By late afternoon, the split was 31 in favor of impeachment and 31 against, she said.




The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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