President Reagan is expected to decide today that he will not send Congress a bill seeking to accelerate deregulation of natural gas this year, according to an aide to Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.).
Baker and House GOP leader Robert H. Michel (Ill.) met with Reagan at the White House yesterday morning on the subject of natural gas deregulation. The president favors speeding deregulation, but he opposes accompanying that action with a "windfall profits" tax, which many members of Congress would try to impose.
In another development, White House communications director David Gergen denied reports originating on Capitol Hill that Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman is on his way out because he has lost credibility with Congress.
Reagan said he has had no discussion in recent weeks about ousting Stockman, Gergen told reporters. He added that Stockman has no intention of resigning.
"The rumors are totally unfounded and the president has full confidence" in Stockman, Gergen said.
Gergen sought to play down the recent spate of rumors, which came amid signs that Stockman's credibility remains impaired after publication of an article in the Atlantic Monthly last fall in which he confessed his doubts about the Reagan economic program.
Some recent congressional questioning of Stockman has been "rude," Gergen said.
He refused to cite examples but he said that Stockman's relationships with members of Congress are improving although "there may be some small pockets of discontent out there."
After publication of the Atlantic article, Reagan took Stockman "to the woodshed," in Stockman's words, and the budget director apologized and offered his resignation. The president declined to accept it, however.