Forty-nine House Democrats representing the ideological spectrum of their party have served notice they are going on the continuing-resolution wagon.
In a letter to House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) last week, the lawmakers took a pledge to oppose any future omnibus appropriations bills, known in congressional parlance as continuing resolutions, such as the $604 billion catchall measure passed by Congress in late December to fund most government operations.
"It is our intention no longer to support the use of the continuing resolution as an end-of-session fiscal year catch-all legislative vehicle," the signers of the letter wrote. "To do so is destructive of the jurisdictions of the authorization committees and prevents the orderly consideration of individual appropriations bills."
The letter comes as Congress continues to be severely criticized for some of the thousands of provisions in the monstrous bill, one of two measures Congress passed to implement its deficit-reduction agreement with the Reagan administration. In his State of the Union address last week the president singled out the continuing resolution for including pork barrel projects for individual congressmen.
"The current procedures . . . do substantive damage to the procedures, integrity and role of the House of Representatives, its committees and individual members," said the letter, which was organized and circulated by Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.), Buddy MacKay (D-Fla.) and Charles W. Stenholm (D-Tex.).
In a statement, Miller said that the special interest provisions contained in last year's continuing resolution were largely unknown to most members of Congress, who "learned of them in embarrassing inquiries from the press days after the bill had been signed into law by the president."
Miller and his colleagues who signed the letter to Wright also vowed to support a spending freeze this year if Congress fails to approve any or all of its 13 regular appropriations bills and again resorts to a continuing resolution.
The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have already pledged to press for passage of the regular appropriations measures this year, a task that is expected to be made easier by last year's budget summit, which established aggregate spending levels for this year's defense and domestic spending accounts.
In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers said that Congress' reliance on huge spending bills results in "the effective disenfranchisement of many members of Congress from the legislative process, and the failure by the Congress itself to give careful and adequate consideration to many critical issues."
Singled out for special criticism by the House members was "the total breakdown in the willingness or ability of the Senate to consider appropriations bills," which they said has diminished the role of the House.
Here is the list of House Democrats who said never again: Miller, MacKay, Stenholm, Mike Espy (Miss.), Peter H. Kostmayer (Pa.), Gerry Sikorski (Minn.), Tim P. Johnson (S.D.), Nick J. Rahall II (W.Va.), Ben Erdreich (Ala.), William J. Hughes (N.J.), Marvin Leath (Tex.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.) and Soloman P. Ortiz (Tex.).
Also, Jim Slattery (Kan.), Richard H. Stallings (Idaho), Barney Frank (Mass.), Joseph E. Brennan (Maine), Dave McCurdy (Okla.), J. Roy Rowland (Ga.), Robin Tallon (S.C.), Don Bonker (Wash.), Timothy J. Penny (Minn.), Jim Moody (Wis.), Robert E. Wise Jr. (W.Va.), Jim Bates (Calif.), Dan Glickman (Kan.), Ronald L. Wyden (Ore.) and George (Buddy) Darden (Ga.).
In addition, Marty Russo (Ill.), Thomas J. (Jerry) Huckaby (La.), Patricia Schroeder (Colo.), Ronald V. Dellums (Calif.), Doug Barnard Jr. (Ga.), Harold E. Ford (Tenn.), James H. Bilbray (Nev.), Louise M. Slaughter (N.Y.), Brian J. Donnelly (Mass.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Beverly B. Byron (Md.), James H. Scheuer (N.Y.), Dante B. Fascell (Fla.), Lee H. Hamilton (Ind.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Charles E. Bennett (Fla.), Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Ronnie G. Flippo (Ala.) and Norman Y. Mineta (Calif.).