With the tacit support of the Reagan administration and the outspoken approval of its Republican members, a House subcommittee voted yesterday to raise the ceiling on the annual federal payment to the District of Columbia from $300 million to $336.6 million.
The higher figure, first proposed in the federal budget prepared by former President Carter for the 1982 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, was left intact by Reagan administration budget-cutters. If approved by Congress and actually appropriated, it would represent a bonanza for the hard-pressed D.C. government, which has prepared its tight $1.5 billion budget for 1982 on the assumption that the federal payment will not exceed the current $300 million maximum.
A bill to raise the limit sailed through the House District Committee's subcommittee on fiscal affairs yesterday with all three Republicans present joining Chairman Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.) and D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy in voting for it.
Rep. Stewart B. McKinney (R-Conn.) said he thought the proposed increase was justified. He added, "I hope that the president's recognition of this fact so early in his administration is a strong indication that we have another friend sympathetic to the District occupying the White House."
The federal payment is money granted to the city by Congress each year to compensate for the cost of the federal presence and for property that the District of Columbia is not permitted to tax because it is owned by the United States or is exempted from taxation by Congress. The payment is the second largest component of the city's revenues, after the personal income tax. Congress traditionally has appropriated less than the full authorization; this year's appropriation of $295.4 million was the biggest ever, but the city is planning to ask for a supplemental appropriation for the remaining $4.6 million.
Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-Va.), a former mayor of Richmond, said he understood the problem of running a capital city that could not tax the property of a higher authority -- in his case, the state of Virginia -- and would support a higher federal payment here. Rep. Stanford Parris, another Republican who represents Washington's northern Virginia suburbs, said that "the Reagan administration and the Office of Management and Budget both support the increase and I'm delighted to do their work."
McKinney warned earlier this week that representatives who see cherished programs and services in their home districts being cut by the Reagan administration may not look kindly on requests for more money for Washington.