House subcommittees controlled by Democrats moved yesterday toward likely future confrontation with the Republican Senate and President Reagan on social programs as they rejected two block grants proposed by Reagan and voted down an anti-rent-control amendment adopted just the day before by trhe Senate Banking Committee.
The subcommittee on housing crushed, 16 to 6, an amendment by Chalmers P. Wylie (R-Ohio) to deny further subsidized housing for the poor to any jurisdictions that maintain rent control for newly built or newly vacated rental housing. The District of Columbia has such a program.
Proponents say rent control discourages housing construction. Wylie said after the vote that he will reoffer his amendment in the full Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and on the floor.
The housing subcomittee also appeared ready to approve 250,000 new subsidized housing units for the poor next year -- 100,000 more than the Senate Banking Committee okayed on Tuesday. President Reagan has requested 175,000.
Meanwhile, the House public assistance subcommittee approved, 7 to 3, a bill making some money-saving changes the president has recommended in welfare law and allowing the states to install "workfare" programs if they want to make welfare recipients work off their benefits. But the subcommittee bill did not include two block grants Reagan has proposed, lumping together numerous existing social services programs.
One presidential proposal would have united the existing welfare emergency fund, about $50 million a year, wikth the $1.85 billion program of low-income energy-aid in a single block grant to the states cut to $1.4 billion. The subcommittee rejected a motion by W. Henson Moore (D-La.) to carry out the president's request and instead left energy aid at $1.4 billion as a separate program, with funding rising to $1.7 billion in fiscal 1983.
A second presidential proposal, much more far-reaching, would have united a dozen major social service programs, totaling about $5 billion, in a single block grant to the states cut to $3.8 billion. The subcommittee which has jurisdiction over three-quarters of the programs involved simply junked the whole idea and, instead of a huge cut, reduced the total outlay for those programs under its jurisdiction by only $50 million. The major programs in this group are social services and child welfare and adoption services.
The Senate Finance Committee has approved the uniting of several of these programs under its jurisdiction into a social services block grant but has excluded several others. Thus, the block concept appears in some trouble, unless these decisions are reversed on the floors in both chambers.
The administration plan on "workfare" had been to require the states to make welfare clients work off their benefits in community work projects. Both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Public Assistance subcommittee have now voted against forcing adoption of "workfare" and instead have made it optional with the states.
The legislative committees are all at work on the specific spending cuts that wil be required if Congress is to stay within the budget totals Reagan has proposed and that Congress seems likely now to adopt.
In other action yesterday:
The House Social Security subcommittee gave formal approval to an administration proposal to phase out the so-called "student benefit." But it decided to cut out the $122 monthly minimum Social Securityu benefit only for people going on the Social Security rolls after Dec. 31, 1981. An administration proposal to cut the minimum benefit for about 3 million persons already on the rolls was rejected.
The House and Senate Agriculture committees continued drafting food stamp legislation that appears to be holding closely to the administration's target of saving $1.4 billion next year.