President Carter yesterday reassured black members of Congress of his active support for the Humphrey-Hawkins full-employment bill, but called a proposed Camp David summit on the measure "ill-advised."
His rejection of such a proposal at a meeting Tuesday with Congressional Black Caucus members led to an angry walkout by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who yesterday continued to question the president's commitment to Humphrey-Hawkins.
Other black congressmen appeared to be taking the Conyers incident in stride. They suggested that while they had strong concerns about the direction of Carter's economic policy, there was no new rift between the White House and blacks in Congress.
"I wouldn't say there's any rift," said Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Calif.), a cosponsor with the late senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.) of the legislation that bears their names. "But we do have sharp criticism of many of his [Carter's] policies. . . .
Many of us see economic policy moving in the wrong direction towards tight money and a low growth rate. We see this as very destructive of any hopes that blacks will get [LINE ILLEGIBLE] present deplorable situation [LINE ILLEGIBLE]
"I don't see any impact from the Conyers incident, said Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). "There was a difference of opinion as to strategy and it did reach a point where the president misunderstood Mr. Conyers."
Carter had questioned whether Conyers' summit proposal was "representative" of the black caucus. Conyers interpreted this as a challenge to his party loyalty. "Of course I am offended when anybody questions my loyalty to the Democratic Party." Conyers told a news conference yesterday.
But "we all disagree sometimes," he said. The dispute was "all in the family."
He said, however, that he thought the president's reelection would be "critically jeopardized if we don't have Humphrey-Hawkins and the Equal Rights Amendment . . .," that Carter could lose "a base built around blacks, women and the labor movement."
At a breakfast with reporters yesterday, Carter called the so-called Humphrey-Hawkins full-employment bill, which would establish as a national goal reducing the overall jobless rate to 4 percent by 1983, of "great symbolic importance because this has been the prime project of black leadership . . . since 1975 or 1976."
"I sincerely hope it will pass," he said. "But I can't call up a Camp David summit on a Humphrey-Hawkins bill the last few days of the congressional session."