"Do you know what the Senate Budget Committee did?" Rep. Robert N. Giaimo (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Budge Committe, asked rhetorically. "Join the club."
A never-ending source of friction between the two committees - charged with developing the budget for the federal government - is what the House claims is the ambiguity of the spending targets set by the Senate.
Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine), chairman of the Senate committee, argues that the budget process is designed to hold down overall spending and to allocate federal resources among various priorities such as defense versus health, but not to decide whether to spend more on the B-1 bomber and less on aid to the handicapped.
Giaimo agrees the committees should not line-item, as he calls it, but says there is "no way I can justify cutting $2 billion out of a functio without giving you arguents as to where those cuts should come."
While the House is very specific in the broad programs it adds or cuts from the budget proposed by the President and the Senate is not, the authorizing committees in both the House and Senate are not bound by the suggestions of the budget committees.
Because of the differences between the Senate and House approach, it is sometimes difficult to identify specific areas of conflict between the two committees.
Staff aides on the town committees identify some major areas of concern as:
DEFENSE. The House committee cut $2.3 billion from the $111.9 billion President Carter asked for. Giaimo said savings could be realized in inflation accounting, foreign military sales, stockpile sales and personnel reforms without damaging the nation's defense posture. The Senate voted to spend $111.6 billion, citing the need to step up weapons programs and improve readiness in view of the impasses in the arms limitation talks with the Soviet Union.
COMERCE and TRANSPORTATION. The House has included more funds for small business, bigger spending from the Highway Trust Fund and included more money for new programs than did the Senate.