Most of President Carter's legislative proposals to save or produce energy already are moving as congressional initiatives, though there are some differences in detail.
Both the House and the Senate want to act on one or more of the bills before recessing early in August. But Carter won't get his detailed legislative language to Congress for a couple of weeks, and there may be some conflict between the desire to act quickly and to wait to find out exactly what the president wants.
A key part of Carter's program is creation of an Energy Mobilization Board, patterned on the War Production Board of World War II, to cut red tape and get energy programs going in a hurry.
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), Senate Energy Committee chairman, has included creation of such a board in an omnibus energy bill he introduced last month. He said he hopes to get committee action on it this week. In the House, a bill sponsored by Interior Committee Chairman Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz.), would set up "fast track" procedures to avoid delays in starting energy-producing programs.But the bill does not include creation of a board.
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said he had encountered some lack of enthusiasm among House chairmen for creating a powerful board, which environmentalists and other single-issue groups fear would run roughshod over their interests. Carter's proposal sounded as if it would give the board more power than Congress has been considering for it.
Carter's proposed program for gearing up synthetic fuel production is of nearly the same scope as a bill passed by the House recently. But Carter would set up a corporation to run it. The House bill would not and was written as an amendment to the Defense Production Act. It provides that the government would buy the new fuel only for defense needs.
A broader bill is being drafted by the House Commerce Committee, which has principal jurisdiction over energy matters. Jackson said he hopes to get a synthetic fuel bill through his Energy Committee next week, so that the Senate can vote both on synfuels and on the mobilization board before recessing.
Carter's request for legislation mandating energy conservation and giving him standby gasoline rationing powers has moved farthest through the legislative pipeline. The Senate passed a bill directing the president to draft an energy conservation plan that would put into effect during an emergency, except in states that have their own Washington-approved plans. A House Commerce subcommittee has added a standby gas rationing plan to that bill, and the full committee will act on it today.
The president's proposal to require utilities to halve their oil use by converting, with federal aid, to other fuels would build on a conversion law passed last year. But that measure is so full of exemptions it is expected to have little effect on power plants. Jackson's bill would require conversion but would not provide federal aid.
Congressional committees are prepared to consider the solar bank and various tax credits the president proposed but are waiting to receive his detailed requests.
In sum, a lot of the program is on track in Congress. "Our problem," said Jackson, "is that the administration has not got its bill up here."
Carter's Sunday night speech drew applause from many of the outside advisers he had called to Camp David early in his reevaluation.
Clark Clifford, a veteran Washington lawyer and former secretary of defense, said Carter's speech was "well conceived, well-structured and particularly well-presented. He came across as a deadly serious man who recognizes the enormity of the challenge facing this country. I think people would respond to that kind of leadership, even if it means sacrifices."
John Gardner, the founder and former president of Common Cause, said, "My reaction is that it was a very good start on persuading the American people we really have to get our backs into this."
Gardner said he recognized that the substance of Carter's energy program - already drawing fire from environmentalists - would be controversial. "But after six years of bickering we have to get together on something," he said, "so I'm with him."
Sol Linowitz, another senior Washington lawyer invited to Camp David by Carter, said, "He certainly struck the theme that I hoped he would, and I thought he laid it out well."
Robert Keefe, a Washington consultant who also was an overnight guest of the president, said "it was a pretty good performance and succeeded in translating what he had in his mind into effective rhetoric."
But in Congress, reaction was mixed, with Democrats generally enthusiastic and Republicans not.
Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.), expected to be a presidential candidate, said the president has "sounded a call to arms and he will benefit them from that. .I'm not going to shoot him down because we do have a crisis." Baker said Republicans are "willing to start from scratch" to move forward a bipartisan energy policy, and that he was "willing to adopt programs about which I am not wholly enthusiastic in deference to the need to do something."
Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) joined House Democratic leaders in calling it Carter's best-delivered speech, "accurate and forceful." The test of its value "will be if anyone remembers it in 30 days," Byrd added.
Sen. George McGovern (D.S.D.) said Carter set out a "challenging energy agenda for the country," for the first time blending a call for conservation with a program to develop other energy sources.
San. Lowell Weicker (R-Conn.), who has been in and out of the president race,said Carter should remove himself as a candidate for reelection, thus freeing himself to take politically unpopular but "necessary" acts such as rationing gas, banning credit card purchase of gas and immediately decontrolling the price of domestic oil.
In the House, Majority Leader Jim right (D-Tex.) and Whip John Brademas (D-Ind.) put Carter's Sunday speech and yesterday's follow-up in Kansas City in the Congressional Record, describing them as "extraordinary, moving, clear, bold."
But a group of Republicans read them differently.Minority whip Robert Michel (R-I11.), said the president was "searching for scapegoats rather than oil" in his Kansas City speech when he mentioned sending investigators to look for criminal activity.
Several conservative House Republicans said Carter simply had dredged up what Rep.