House Budget Committee Chairman James R. Jones (D-Okla.) said today he expects the House to reject most of President Reagan's proposal for consolidating federal categorical aid programs into block grants controlled by the states.
The prediction brought applause from members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting here, who are dispirited about budget cuts and extremely fearful of administration proposals for shifting control over remaining federal urban aid dollars from Washington to their state capitals.
While not ruling out House Approval of some version of block grant proposals in the future, Jones said he believes the House now feels that the changes Reagan is proposing are flawed and are too sweeping to be rushed through Congress with the rest of the president's economic program.
But, he told glum-faced mayors, they should not expect urban funds to be restored as Congress completes work this summer on the budget.
"Some of you may hope that Congress changes its mind on this 'valuable program' or that 'valuable program' but I must tell you in all frankness that Congress is not about to do that," he said. "With some small exceptions, the Reagan program is going to go into effect."
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. tried to assure mayors that the Reagan administration "is not anti-city and will not abandon the cities."
"I will not see urban interests sacrified on the altar of fiscal austerity," Perce said. "But neither I will see, or will the president permit, fiscal responsibility to be sacrificed to political convenience or civic indifference or bureaucratic sloth."
Earlier, Richard G. Hatcher, the current president of the Mayors' conference, continued his assault on administration budget policies.
"Cities are being asked to volunteer as guinea pigs for an economic experiment that is untested, unproven and, I fear, unsound," he said.
The attacks by Hatcher, who is also vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, have angered the White House.
In a message to the conference today, Reagan pointedly avoided mentioning Hatcher and spoke about the conference vice president Helen Boosalis, the mayor of Lincoln, Neb.