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Hatfield Offered to Resign Before Senate Budget Vote

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<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

Republican Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon, whose solitary defiance of his own party helped bring down the balanced-budget amendment last week, offered to resign before the vote, Majority Leader Bob Dole said Sunday.

Dole (R-Kan.), speaking on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation,” also said President Clinton used the balanced-budget debate to discredit him. Dole is a potential rival in the 1996 campaign.

“The President and the Democratic leadership in the Senate decided this might be a pretty good shot at Bob Dole, because the leaders who voted for this last year voted against it this year, with President Clinton’s blessing at least.”

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Hatfield joined 33 Democrats last week in sending the balanced-budget amendment, which needed a two-thirds majority, to a one-vote defeat.

Hatfield, Dole said, “made a mistake, he’s part of the leadership.” Dole said he told Hatfield before the vote that his opposition was a reflection on Republicans and on Dole’s leadership.

Hatfield responded by offering to resign from the Senate, giving amendment supporters 66 of 99 votes, the two-thirds majority. “That’s not an option, Mark,” Dole said he replied.

Hatfield confirmed Dole’s account about the resignation offer in a statement issued later Sunday.

“I made this offer out of loyalty to my party and out of loyalty to my leader,” said Hatfield. “I was disturbed that some were using my vote to question his leadership.”

Dole praised Hatfield for his support on most issues and said, “I’m not certain you single out somebody” for a single vote. Asked if Hatfield should step down as Appropriations Committee chairman, Dole said, “I haven’t made that judgment.”

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Hatfield’s fellow Oregon Republican senator, Bob Packwood, told reporters that “nothing is going to happen to Mark. He will remain as Appropriations chairman.”

Senate Majority Whip Trent Lott of Mississippi blasted Hatfield on Saturday.

He said it “exhibited an awful lot of arrogance for him to reject the feelings of his own constituency, his own legislative leaders, his colleagues in the Senate and his leadership, including Bob Dole.”

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