WASHINGTON – Democratic Rep. Albert Wynn walked away from the House Thursday thinking he had voted for the line-item veto, an aide said. But according to the House parliamentarian, he actually voted against it.
Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett issued a press release Friday expressing regret that he had voted against the line-item veto. He said he did so only because it was part of a bill to increase the national debt limit, which he opposed.
In reality, Bartlett, of Frederick, had voted for the line- item veto without knowing it.
The two Maryland congressmen were not alone in their confusion.
In an apparently unusual and widespread misunderstanding, the vote on the line-item veto actually occurred on a procedural rule, Rep. Gerald Solomon, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Rules Committee, said in a written statement released Friday.
In response to numerous calls from House members and press, said Don Wolfensberger, staff director for the committee, Solomon issued a statement expressing regret over the misunderstanding.
Solomon said the committee had intended for the line-item veto to have been part of a larger bill, which also included an increase in earnings allowed for Social Security recipients, small business regulatory relief and the increase in the debt limit.
But the parliamentarian said the procedural rule – which Wynn opposed and Bartlett supported – had actually stripped the line-item veto from the larger bill. In the rule, the House agreed to the Senate’s version of the line-item veto.
Bartlett said he was “not unhappy” that he had actually voted for the line-item veto. “I can’t recall this kind of confusion” happening before, he said.
“This was understandable, but regrettable,” he said.
After the procedural question passed Thursday, 232-177, the line-item veto was on the way to the president’s desk regardless of what happened to the larger bill, a Rules Committee staffer said. In the next vote, on the larger bill, Wynn voted yes, while Bartlett voted no.
Solomon said he took “full responsibility for not clarifying this situation earlier.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mitchellville, who before the vote had indicated tentative support for a line-item veto depending on the final language, did vote against it and the procedural rule. His vote was intentional, said Jesse Jacobs, Hoyer’s spokesman.
Hoyer opposed it because it required a two-thirds majority of Congress to overrule the president’s use of the veto, which will allow the president to slash or kill specific items in the federal budget. Had the bill required a simple majority vote to overrule, Hoyer would have supported it, Jacobs said.
Wynn, of Largo, and Hoyer were the only two Maryland House members to vote against the line-item veto Thursday.