By Dennis Sean O’Brien
WASHINGTON – While generally pursuing a Democratic agenda, Rep. Albert Wynn has shown in his two terms in Congress he sometimes votes against the president and other members of his party.
Wynn, D-Largo, opposed President Clinton in June 1995 by voting for a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration.
He voted last year to restrict unfunded mandates, requirements the federal government can impose on local governments without funding them. He also voted in 1994 to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia, opposing the president.
“He is his own man,” said Sharon McGill, Wynn’s spokeswoman.
Not all agree.
Chris West, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said the 4th District congressman is doing “everything he can to perpetuate the status quo in Washington, D.C.”
West added, “In general, Al Wynn is an ardent liberal Democrat and his voting record is entirely consistent with that philosophy.”
Pete Sepp, vice president for communications for the National Taxpayers Union, said Wynn’s votes in 1994 do not show a “significant desire to reduce the federal deficit.”
The taxpayers’ union, which lobbies for spending cuts to reduce the deficit, gave him a 21 percent rating for 237 votes cast in 1994 on government spending. “That qualifies for an `F’ on our scale,” Sepp said.
A Capital News Service analysis of Wynn’s voting record also shows that he joined most other House Democrats last year on several key votes.
Wynn voted against a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.
“I’m for a balanced budget, but a fiscally responsible and fair one, like the president proposed,” Wynn said.
He voted against the constitutional amendment because, he said, it did not leave room for emergency spending in such situations as disasters and war.
He opposed the Republican welfare reform package and term limits.
“I am for welfare reform, with work requirements, but the Republican plan did not provide enough for children and emphasized punishment,” Wynn said.
He opposed term limits, he said, because the voters should have the right to choose their representatives.
He said his experience in the Maryland Statehouse led him to vote with the Republicans to restrict unfunded mandates – a bill that the president signed.
“They’re an unfair burden on the state government, which gets passed down to the county government, causing raised taxes,” Wynn said.
He cast his vote for the flag-burning amendment out of respect, he said.
“The flag is a symbol of our country,” Wynn said. “In society, some symbols are sacrosanct. The flag is one of those symbols.”
Wynn voted last November against a Republican-proposed ban on third-trimester, “partial-birth” abortions, defined in the bill as one in which the person performing it “partially vaginally delivers a living fetus before killing the fetus and completing the delivery.”
But Wynn said the terminology is misleading.
“It was really a vote on an emergency procedure used only in rare circumstances, such as a major deformity or to save the mother’s life,” he said.
“I am generally against third-term abortions but I’m not going to vote against an emergency procedure to save a mother’s life,” Wynn said.
In foreign affairs, Wynn voted in December for the House resolution that expressed support for U.S. troops deployed to Bosnia but neither condoned nor condemned the president’s decision to send them.
“I think the president’s correct that we have a responsibility to play a role in multilateral peacekeeping – not peacemaking. Particularly in a situation where we have been part of the negotiations and when the operation has a reasonable time limit,” said Wynn, a member of the International Relations Committee. “And we all have a moral obligation to support American troops that are in harm’s way.”
In one area, Wynn has been quite predictable: His votes for federal workers. His district, which straddles Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, includes more federal workers than any other district in the country, McGill said.
In 1994, Wynn sponsored an amendment to a defense bill allotting $50 million to retrain federal workers and military personnel forced out of their jobs because of cuts.
On Sept. 6, more than two months before last year’s first federal government shutdown, Wynn cosponsored a bill that would ensure federal workers would be paid during furloughs.
“I anticipated that we would have a shutdown. We’ve had them in the past. I just wanted to make sure that the workers would get paid,” he said.
The American Federation of Government Employees gave Wynn a perfect score in its soon-to-be released ratings for votes cast in 1995. The federation selected 17 votes representing labor, budget and federal employee issues.
“We do certainly regard him as a friend,” said John Threlkeld, a legislative representative for the federation.
Wynn, 44, faces one Democratic challenger in the March 5 primary: Maria Turner, 64, a college languages teacher from Mount Ranier. Two Republicans are seeking Wynn’s seat. Dr. Cesar Madarang, 64, a physician from Silver Spring, and John Kimble, 35, also of Silver Spring. Kimble, the owner of a paging company, ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 1994. -30-