Party time Featured

9:37am EDT July 22, 2002

If you're looking for surprises, you won't find many in the voting records of the region's members of Congress when it comes to small business issues.

A recap of the votes of the region's officeholders during the 106th Congress reveals that they voted pretty much as one might expect when it came to business issues. The figures are according to a study by SMC Business Councils, National Small Business United and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

"It's kind of black and white here," says Jan Lanyon, director of federal government relations for SMC.

Democrats, for the most part, scored low when it came to being business-friendly. Republicans tended to get more favorable grades for their voting performance on small business issues.

Rep. Frank Mascara, D-20th District, got the study's low score at 5 percent. Four congressmen, all Republicans, scored 100 percent in the favorable category.

Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican who is facing a challenge for his seat this year from Rep. Ron Klink, D-4th District, scored 100 percent as well. Sen. Arlen Specter, also a Republican, voted in favor of small business just 22 percent of the time, the study concludes, although his pro-business record was better in the two previous sessions. Klink scored just ahead of Mascara, with an 8 percent record. William Coyne, D-14th District, "probably our worst enemy," says Lanyon, posted a 23 percent record.

But using party designations to determine which candidates are healthy for small business has its limitations.

Phil English, R-21st District, shows an 84 percent record, consistent with his 90 percent mark for the 105th Congress. Mike Doyle, D-18th District, has a 38 percent record in the current session and a 50 percent record in the 105th Congress. While Doyle pays a lot of attention to issues that are near and dear to most Democrats, like Social Security and public housing, he also worked to get $5 million in funding to start a program coordinated by Carnegie Mellon University to demonstrate how advanced software engineering techniques can improve the manufacturing process.

So before you check in at the polls, you might want to check out the record. How to reach: SMC Business Councils, (412) 371-1500 or www.smc.org; National Small Business United, (202) 293-8830 or www.nsbu.org; National Federation of Independent Business, (800) 552-6442 or www.nfib.com. U.S. senators and congressmen maintain offices in Washington, D.C., as well as several in their respective districts. The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh provides voter information and links to all officeholders at http://www.pgh.net/~ctellis/lwvgp.