Republican Sen. Mark Hatfield, 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.
Hatfield joined 33 Democrats last week in sending the balanced budget amendment, which needed a twothirds majority, to a one-vote defeat.
Hatfield, Dole said, “made a mistake, he’s part of the leadership.” Dole said he told the Oregon senator before the vote that his opposition was a reflection on Republicans and their leader, Dole.
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.
But Dole added that by keeping his job, Hatfield, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, faces possible recriminations from his fellow Republicans.
Hatfield confirmed Dole’s account. “I made this offer our 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. Sen. Dole declined my resignation and I proceeded to vote on the merits of the amendment as I saw them.”
He added: “It is my intention to lead the Senate Appropriations Committee in taking the steps necessary to reduce the deficit immediately. … We all need to work together to muster the political courage to make some very difficult decisions in the months and years ahead.”
Sen. Majority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., blasted Hatfield on Saturday, saying 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.”