The often quarrelsome House and Senate money committees, which reported differing versions of the budget during the weekend, wasted no time yesterday launching a war of words over their methods.
Del. Dorothy S. McDiarmid (D-Fairfax), in her first session as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, led off yesterday with a spirited floor speech.
McDiarmid, who some legislators say was trying to show she can be tough in upcoming conference battles with the Senate, hailed her committee's hard work and long hours. Her panel, she noted, worked "in regularly scheduled meetings all open to the public and press," which she pointedly said contrasted with "our counterparts in the Senate."
That was a not-so-subtle dig at the Senate Finance Committee and its chairman, Edward E. Willey of Richmond. Willey's committee met on Sunday and in less than an hour zoomed through more than 200 pages of budget decisions that had been worked out in a secret session Saturday by a group called the "secret seven."
Willey, told of McDiarmid's remarks about her group's public sessions, shot back: "Anybody believes that is standing on their head."
In her speech, McDiarmid said her committee's version of the $18.5 billion budget was a "fiscally sound, prudently balanced budget" without the new taxes in the Senate measure.
McDiarmid also criticized what she said was the Senate's "disdainful" reaction to the House's plan to put more money into social welfare and work programs.
Willey, who on Sunday suggested he would fight the increases, dismissed McDiarmid's criticism. "She better put her own house in order," Willey responded. "She better . . . ," Willey began, leaving the sentence unfinished.
The two committees have three weeks before the March 8 adjournment to reach agreement on the budget.