In support of a constitutional amendment, proposed by Rep. Marjorie Holt (R-Severna Park) requiring a balanced federal budget, a Baltimore stockbroker independently gathered 3,000 signatures from Maryland residents and presented the petition to Mrs. Holt last week.
During the past several months, Duncan Mackenzie of Bel Air, Md., took it upon himself to call on all major banks and businesses in the Baltimore area and obtained signatures in favor of the amendment from the lowest paid employees to corporate presidents.
In presenting the petition to Mrs. Holt, Mackenzie said that "the taxpayers of Maryland want relief" from the financial burden they are carrying because of the country's deficit.
The proposed constitutional amendment would require Congress to balance the budget, and any deficit incurred in a fiscal year would be repaid by an automatic surtax the following year. The mandatory surtax could be set aside in time of national emergency by a three-fourths vote of both houses of congress.
According to Holt, federal budget deficit for the 1976 fiscal year was $66 billion, and the projected deficit for the current fiscal year could run as high as $60 billion.
"The inflation we have endured the recent years has provoked tremendous national interest in this kind of amendment," said Holt. "The people realize that inflation is the consequence when the federal government spends tens of billions of dollars more than its tax revenues."
Sen. Charles Mathias (R-Md.) announced this week that the Navy Department has awarded $8,582,470 to the Vitro Laboratories in Silver Spring. The contract is for engineering services and various naval ships and installations.
Mathias has also introduced legislation designed to offset a potential water shortage that could affect the Washington area this summer.
The bill would allow construction a low-level underwater dam on the Potomac River from the North Shore to Watkins Island above Great Falls.
Rep. Newton Steers (R-Bethesda) will sponsor a spring congressional seminars program for selected junior high school students from the Eighth Congressional District.
The program, which coincides with the spring recess of county high schools, will include four days of seminars with speakers from all branches of the government.
In letters to the presidents of Washington Gas Light Company and Baltimore Gas and Electric this week, Rep. Gladys Noon Spellman (D-Md.), asked that they devise a plan to minimize personal economic hardship resulting from the energy shortage.
Votes of area members of Congress on key roll calls for the week ending Feb. 4: HOUSE
Emergency Natural Gas Bill. The new Democratic team of President Carter and the 95th Congress proved they could work together smoothly - and quickly - by taking only six days to pass a bill giving the President emergency powers to combat the natural gas crisis.
The measure, which the House passed 336-82, empowered the President to order interstate natural gas sent wherever he decided it was most needed. It also authorized him to permit emergency sales of natural gas to interstate buyers at unregulated prices, a departure from present federal price control policies. Both powers would expire within set time limits. The Senate passed the same bill by voice vote.
Opponents of the emergency measure argued that the bill does not go far enough in easing the crisis because it would not increase gas supplies or ensure that shut-down factories could be reopened.
Proponents said that the bill was designed to ensure only that the gas customers such as homes and hospitals would not run out of fuel for heat. They said no emergency bill could produce new gas or end factory shut-downs.
Voting for emergency natural gas bill: MARYLAND - Bauman (R), Byron (D), Holt (R), Long (D), Mikulski (D), Mitchell (D), Spellman (D), Steers (R).
Assassination Investigation. A controversial House committee received a temporary extension to continue its investigations into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. By a 237-164 vote, the House decided to fund the committee until the end of March, when it would again report to the House and request full reconstitution and a full budget. The select committee was established last September.
Supporters of extending the committee argued that the investigations are needed to restore public confidence in the government. They cited public opinion polls which show that most Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray acted alone as officially concluded.
Opponents of continuing the committee contended that there was no value in dredging up the tragedies of the past and expressed concern that the committee might become a seedbed of unwarranted attack on the FBI and the CIA.
Voting to continue the assassination Investigation: Maryland - Byron (D), Long (D), Milkulski (D), Mitchell (D), Spellman (D).
Voting not to continue the assassination investigation: Maryland - Bauman (R), Holt (R), Steers (R). SENATE
Congressional Pay Raise. The Senate voted 56-42 to table (kill) a resolution that would have blocked a pay raise for members of Congress, federal judges and top-level executive branch officials. The raises were proposed by President Ford on Jan. 17 and are scheduled to take effect Feb. 20 unless vetoed by either house of Congress. The proposal would increase the pay for members of Congress to $57,500 from $44,000 and provide increases for about 2,000 other federal officials as well.
Backers of the pay raise pointed out that members of Congress and other top federal officials had had only one pay raise - five per cent - since 1969 and that the cost of living had increased by more than 60 per cent since then.
Opponents of the raise argued that it would be unwise for Congress to increase its own pay during a time of economic difficulty.
Voting to table (kill) resolution disapproving pay raise: MARYLAND - Mathias (R), Sarbanes (D).