The Senate Finance Committee's taxless energy tax bill hit the Senate floor to a gusher of criticism yesterday, and President Carter urged that it be speeded to a House-Senate conference for repairs.
In other energy actions at the Capitol:
The House Rules Committee voted 10 to 5 to delay until next year House action on an outer continental shelf bill containing a major revision of procedures governing drilling for oil and gas under the sea. Supporters of the legislation called the vote a victory for the major oil companies, which oppose several provisions in the bill, including one to open up bidding for leases to smaller operators. Rep. John B. Anderson (R-Ill.) said he voted for delay because he felt the big national energy policy bill should be exacted first.
Conferees on the non-tax part of the big bill continued their work at a slow pace. House conferees vote 23 to 1 against a Senate provision that would ban the sale of gas-guzzling cars starging in 1980. They prefer the House tax to penalize and discourage purchase of gas guzzler tax, which the Senate Finance Committee rejected.
As it emerge from the Finance Committee, the energy tax bill contained none of the three major taxes proposed by Carter to reduce the use of oil. Instead it would give away an estimated $40 billion in tax incentives by 1985 and in the process would fatten the federal deficit beyond the level prescribed by the congressional budget resolution for this year by nearly $1 billion. It would also intrude on the jurisdiction of other Senate committees, critics said.
After their weekly breakfast meeting with Carter, Democratic congressional leaders reported that President said he hoped the Senate would speed the bill to conference for rewriting, along with the non-tax parts of the energy plan. Carter appeared to have accepted the strategy of Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) and Finance Committee Chairman Russell B. Long (D-La.) to write the tax bill in conference rather than ask a hostile Senate to revive any of the tax proposals.
But a number of critical senators have said they will try to amend the bill on the Senate floor rather than simply send it to conference in its present form. This group includes both liberals and conservatives, who have reservations about the bill for sometimes conflicting reasons.
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), Senate Energy Committee chairman, had planned to try to strike a portion of the bill creating an energy trust fund on grounds that this was within the jurisdiction of his committee, not Longs. Long headed this off by striking the provision on his own, but it, can be reoffered later.
Jackson told the Senate the Finance Committee bill goes in exactly the opposite direction from Carter's plan to impose taxes to save oil but return the revenue to the public to avoid damage to the economy. "This is no stripped-down bill," as some have called it. Jackson said. "It should get an award for best decorated Christmas tree."
Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D-Maine) convened the Senate Budget Committee which he heads to assess the damage Long's committee may have done to the budget resolution. Muskie called the bill a Thanksgiving "turkey."