Brushing aside Republican protests, the House Budget Committee yesterday approved a spending ceiling of $63.7 billion deficit and a 2 percent spending reduction promised by President-elect Ronald Reagan.
The long-delayed second budget resolution was approved by a strictly partisan vote after Rep. Delbert Latta (R-Ohio), the committee's ranking minority member, protested in vain that two of Reagan's top economic advisers wanted action delayed until the incoming Reagan administration could review the congressional spending priorities.
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) complained in a television interview that Budget Committee Democrats were playing games with us" by proposing to lock Reagan's campaign promise of a 2 percent spending cut into the 1981 budget.
Committee Chairman Robert N. Giaimo (D-Conn.), who aired the proposal Monday as the committee began work on the budget resolution, said he was only trying to cut spending, not "attempting to sandbag the new president." w
But Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.) suggested that making the $17 billion worth of spending cuts envisioned by the 2 percent cutback would be a first test of "voodoo economics" -- a reference to Vice President-elect George Bush's characterization of Reagan economic policies during the primary campaign.
Thus it appeared that the partisan warfare of House budget deliberations will continue and perhaps intensify as the still-Democratic House tries to work with a Republican White House and Senate after the changeover in January.It also raised the more immediate possibility of trouble for the Budget Committee proposal if Republicans and conservative Democrats join in pushing for bigger spending cuts, or a delay, when the budget comes to the House floor next week.
In the committee yesterday, Rep. Majorie S. Holt (R-Md.) argued unsuccessfully for a slashed-back budget of $623.3 billion that presumed a tax cut starting Jan. 1, rather than the committee's target date of July 1. The cuts assumed by Holt's amendment really would "sandbag" the Reagan administration, Giaimo contended.
The committee also rejected a proposal by Rep. Leon Panetta (D-Calif.) to require specific spending cuts to offset any tax reduction.
The $631.7 billion spending ceiling approved by the House Budget Committee is slightly less than the $633 billion ceiling proposed last summer by the Senate Budget Committee, which did not allow for a tax cut. It is about $18 billion more than Congress approved as a spending target in the first budget resolution earlier in the year.
Giaimo's 2 percent spending cut, which would apply to all agencies except the Pentagon, would reduce outlays by $17 billion and the deficit by $13 billion.
The tax cut would be smaller and later than the $39 billion cut proposed by the Senate Finance Committee to take effect Jan. 1. Largely because of the delay, it would add only $5.4 billion to the deficit.
The budget is scheduled to go to the House floor next Tuesday. The Senate is expected to act on its version on Monday.