• U.S.

The Checkbooks Are in the Mail

2 minute read

THE DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS JUST CAN’T SEEM TO shake their check-bouncing woes. Boxed into a political corner, most of them joined their Republican colleagues last week in voting to turn over to a special prosecutor the records for all House bank accounts for a 39-month period ending last October. But they did it through gritted teeth.

Claiming to have uncovered possible evidence of “a classic check-kiting scheme,” the Justice Department counsel, Malcolm R. Wilkey, requested the bank records for all the members of Congress — those who had been cited for overdrafts as well as 170 who hadn’t. House Speaker Thomas S. Foley and other Democrats argued that the sweeping subpoena violated the members’ right of privacy, as well as Congress’s constitutionally guaranteed independence. But fears of inciting more voter outrage over the check-bouncing scandal — which has focused mainly on their party — won the day: 131 Democrats joined the unanimous Republicans to defeat a motion that would have challenged the subpoena in court. A motion to turn over the records was then passed by a vote of 347-64. “We don’t want a cover-up,” said Republican James V. Hansen of Utah. “We want to get this behind us.” The Democrats could hardly disagree.

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