In the wake of President Reagan's spectacular victories in the House, several Democratic representatives are considering switching parties, according to House Republican Leader Robert H. Michal.
The Illinois lawmaker said he met recently with "several conservative Democrats who voted for Reaganhs tax and budget programs and want to discuss the possibility of becoming Republicans.
"They're wanting to talk about it," he said. "Whether any would want to actually change their registration before the next election, it's their privilege. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a couple who might want to do that."
If there are, however, no one is making any announcements. Texas Democrat Charles W. Stenholm, coordinator of the Conservative Democratic Forum, a loose coalition of House members who tend to vote with Republicans, said yesterday, "I have not heard of anyone seriously contemplating switching parties."
However, he added, "The frustrations are very deep among conservative Democrats about the direction in which our party is going. We ought to be coming up with a new game plan. Our old one is bankrupt."
Democrats outnumber Republicans in the House 244 to 191, but the GOP hopes that if it can narrow the gap in the 1982 elections, enough conservative Democrats could be persuaded to change parties to give the Republicans control.
Michel would not identify the Democrats who have spoken to him about switching, but the discussions have involved what accommodations could be made to enable the new party members to retain seniority on committees.
Although he is encouraging the talk, Michel is pessimistic that the senority arrangements could be made midway through the two-year congressional session. "It's easier to do at the beginning of a Congress when you are organizing," he said Friday.
"Even today, after several victories and some of our friends on the other side are feeling just about at that point [of switching], I can't imagine the Speaker giving me an additional seat on any committee to accommodate someone on his side who says, 'Sorry, I've got to cross the aisle.' You've got a problem of giving them something substantial in return." a
It would not be just a problem of Democrats blocking the switches. Republicans would have to be persuaded to give up committee seats or seniority in favor of new arrivals.
"It's a sticky wicket," Michel said, but he left open the possibility that it could be orchestrated in a few cases. "There would be just a couple you can take care of to some degree."
Phil Gramm and Kent R. Hance, the two Texas Democrats who cosponsored Reaganhs bills with House Republicans, said they have not spoken to Michel about switching parties and have no such plans, despite talk among some Democrats that they should be thrown off their committees for deserting the party's position.
"There are going to be a lot more issues down the road," Hance said. "To think that two or three votes [for Reagan's economic program] are the only votes of the session is unrealistic."
Gramm, whose district, like Hance's, went for Reagan in 1980, said, "At this point I still hold out some hope of moving the Democratic Party back to the mainstream."
He added, however, that if Democrats decide to discipline him, "I'm not going to take kindly to it. I'm a conservative, but if the day comes when I canht represent what I believe in, I'll go back to teaching school or I'll change parties."
Other conservative Democrats also denied speaking to Michel. Dan Daniel (D-Va.) said he plans to remain a Democrat "because of my seniority and subcommittee chairmanship." G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery (D-Miss.) and Buddy Roemer (D-La.) said they had not heard any talk of switching.
"It may be wishful thinking on the part of Michel," another Democrat said.