The House Ways and Means Committee voted informally yesterday to raise the ceiling on the national debt to $836 billion through next September 30 -- a jump of $38 billion -- to meet government financing needs for fiscal 1979.
In a series of routine votes, the panel also agreed to allow the Treasury to boost the maximum interest rate paid on U.S. savings bonds to 6.5 percent, from the 6 percent limit in effect now.
It also voted to authorize the sale of $40 billion worth of long-term government securities without regard to the 4.25 percent ceiling on interest rates now in effect. The present limit is $32 billion.
The votes, which are expected to be upheld later when the panel actually drafts legislation affecting the debt ceiling, were precisely in line with the Carter administration's latest requests.
Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal told law-makers yesterday the increased authority must be enacted by March 9 or the government will exceed existing ceilings and run into fiscal problems.
Congress routinely approves periodic increases in the debt ceiling several times a year as part of a procedure left over from earlier days. However, the measure often becomes a political football for White House critics.
Yesterday, Ways and Means Committee members defeated two bids by liberals to raise the maximum interest rate for savings bonds even higher than ultimately was approved, and rejected a third proposal designed to eliminate red tape.
Meanwhile, a Senate Finance subcommittee began hearings on counterpart legislation, but did not take action on the measure. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. (Ind-Va.), the panel's chairman, is a foe of large budget deficits.
The moves came as, separately, Charles L. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told the Senate Budget Committee that Congress must meet Carter's $29 billion deficit target to help combat inflation.
Schultze came under repeated questioning by liberals, who sought to bolster the view that spending cutbacks do not contribute much to reducing the inflation rate, but Schultze, as expected, upheld the administration's position.
Yesterday's Ways and Means Committee hearing was one of the tamest in recent months on the debt-ceiling issue. Last session the legislature several times was held hostage by lawmakers hoping to use it to make a political point.