House and Senate leaders yesterday agreed on an agenda for the rest of the year that will let Congress adjourn Oct. 7 so its members can return home to campaign.
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) and Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said that before adjournment, Congress must finish work on 13 regular appropriation bills and 56 authorization bills extending expiring programs.
The two leaders also listed 10 other bills they hope will be approved, but the list includes several administration initiatives that appear to have little chance of passing.
The 10 include President Carter's stalled energy package, an embattled tax cut proposal, a hospital cost-controls bill that was gutted yesterday by the House Commerce Committee, the labor revision bill that was pulled off the Senate floor last month, the Humphrey-Hawkins full employment bill, airline deregulation, aid to New York City, military foreign aid and civil service reform.
Another list of bills President Carter wants but which O'Neill and Byrd either assigned lower priority or thought too routine to put on the critical list includes creating a Department of Education, public works to create jobs. Alaska land use, lobbying reform, highway-mass transit, public service jobs extension (CETA), foreign intelligence wiretapping, time extension for ratifying Equal Rights Amendment, housing, omnibus judgeship bill, housing programs extension, debt ceiling increase and Department of Energy (DOE) authorization.
Several of these come under the heading of expiring authorization and are "must" bills, such as DOE, debt, housing and CETA.
Asked if there was talk of a post-election session, O'Neill said the leaders decided only to work as hard as possible to finish the program by Oct. 7. Anything Congress leaves unfinished when it adjourns for the year will die, and the new Congress, which convenes in January, will have to start over.