Republicans tried yesterday to get a Senate vote on the Finance Committee's $39 billion tax-cut bill, which President Carter doesn't want acted on now, and predictably were shot down after a shower of political rhetoric.

"A sad day for America," said Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.) "because the Senate does not have the courage to do its work." Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), senior Republican on Finance, urged the Senate to "put principle above politics" and stay in town to work on a tax bill instead of going home to campaign.

Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) retorted that "My handkerchief is soaked with the crocodile tears from the other side of the aisle," and called the Republican motion to call up the bill "blatant politics." The bill could be taken up after the elections in a calmer atmosphere, he said.

Byrd's motion to table, and thus kill, the Republican maneuver was approved, 54 to 38, with five Democrats and three Republicans defecting from party positions. 3One of the Democrats who voted to take up the bill now was Finance Chairman Russell B. Long (D-La), who has led the fight for action now. He said the bill must be passed before the election or it will never be put to a vote.

Before this maneuver, Republicans in the House and Senate also tried to embarrass Democrats into action now on the second budget resolution, but were also slapped down by party-line votes. Republicans said Democrats are delaying action on the budget resolution until after the elections because they lack the courage to vote on the spending plan before.