Washington soothsayers aren't prepared to say whether greater political benefit will come to those who voted in favor of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings or those who voted agin' it. But House members have learned of what may be an unintended election-year benefit of the budget cuts that took effect over the weekend.
Government-financed mailings from House members to their constituents are supposed to halt two months before any primary or general election. But because of the budget cuts, the Publications Distribution Service is falling further behind in its mailings than usual. House Doorkeeper James T. Molloy wrote members early this month that "If, as it now appears certain, the . . . service is unable to add the required temporary personnel, significant delays in delivery will be impossible to avoid."
Molloy's letter noted that even "minimal delays" in past mailing efforts had "caused charges against incumbent members, both by their opponents and by Common Cause, of members exercising their congressional mailing privileges to gain an unfair campaign advantage."
FSOs to Take Grand Tour . . . The classic State Department two-year tour of duty may go the way of the California condor -- almost extinct, with a few exceptions. Under a new policy formulated at Foggy Bottom, foreign service officers would spend three years at a foreign post. Exceptions would be made for hardship posts and junior officers being rotated for training. The policy change is being discussed with the American Foreign Service Association, the bargaining agent for foreign service officers.
Blame it on the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget-balancing law -- but only partly. The policy shift will not only save money, but also prevent officers from being uprooted just when they've mastered the local scene. Some FSOs say it is an idea whose time had come anyway.
Intents and Purposes . . . Attorney General Edwin Meese III, in a speech last week to the National Press Club, said he plans to improve public understanding of new laws by having a presidential statement of intent published whenever the president signs legislation.
Congressional intent is reflected in printed reports on the legislative history of the bill. Meese said West Publishing Co. will regularly publish presidential signing statements so they will be available to courts and lawyers.
Judgment Rendered . . . The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a federal judgeship for Sidney A. Fitzwater, 32, a Texas judge who has been the target of charges from liberals that he is insensitive to minority voting rights. The 10-to-5 vote was largely along party lines, with Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) breaking ranks to vote with the Republicans for confirmation.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said that Fitzwater, as a Republican judicial candidate in 1982, showed "a callous insensitivity to the importance of voting rights" by personally posting GOP signs in minority precincts warning voters that they could go to prison for violating Texas election law. Kennedy said the signs represented "a classic method of voter intimidation used to infringe on the voting rights of minority citizens."
But Simon called Fitzwater "a young man who is going to be fair," and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) called him "an excellent choice." Fitzwater, who has said he was asked to post the signs and did not know they were going up mainly in minority precincts, awaits confirmation by the full Senate.