The controversial Humphrey-Hawkins "full employment" bill finally reaches the House floor today amid expectations that the bill will pass easily but most likely with an added "anti-inflation" target to accompany its long-range goal for reducing unemployment.
During two days of scheduled debate, Republican plan to offer amendments to "balance" the bill's jobless target with companion "goals" of reducing the inflation rate to 3 percent, trimming the present tax burden and balancing the budget - all by 1983.
Atlhough both Democrats and Republicans believe most of these provisions will fail, both sides concede some sort of anti-inflation target probably has a good chance of passage. Democrats are pondering their own proposal to set an annual price-increase goal.
Meanwhile, a new dispute amerged yesterday over a last-minute change in the Humphrey-Hawkins legislation that would establish a new economic goal-setting procedure that critics say would rival the recently enacted congressional budget process.
The plan, tacked onto the Humphrey-Hawkins measure by the House leadership, would require Congress to vote each spring on a broad economic goal-setting resolution similar to the present budget resolution. The Joint Economic Committee would draft and manage the measure.
Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D-Me.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is openly opposing the House provision, contending it would usurp the policymaking functions of the new budget process. In the Senate, the Humphrey-Hawkins measure still is in subcommittee.
However, Rep. Robert N. Giaimo (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said his panel will not oppose the measure so long as sponsors make clear in floor debate that the economic goal-setting resolution would not be binding on the Budget Committee.
Nevertheless, critics warned the provision could result in the thorny situation in which Congress first approves one set of economic goals in the JEC resolution and then votes to adopt a conflicting set in the budgetary measure. Under today's bill, the JEC measure would be considered first.
The developments came as sponsors of the Humphrey-Hawkins bill held a press conference to promote passage of the legislation, and to top administration officials endorsed the measure again in Senate testimony. The Senate subcommittee begins mark-up of the bill today.
The measure, named for its sponsors - Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Calif.) and the late Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.), would establish a national goal of reducing the unemployment rate from its present 6.3 percent to 4 percent by 1983, and commit the government to getting there.
The bill is a watered-down version of an earlier proposal that the White House has rejected. Today's measure would scrap many of the mandatory job programs the earlier version would have contained. However, conservatives warn its goals still are unrealistic.