Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) and House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) said yesterday they still want to work out a bipartisan budget compromise with Democratic leaders despite collapse of a first round of negotiations last week.
But, talking with reporters after a meeting with President Reagan on the continuing budget impasse, Baker indicated that Congress will proceed to write its own version of the budget in the normal way in the meantime.
And sources close to the Senate Republican leadership said a resumption of bipartisan talks is not anticipated "until there is a need for it."
What is expected is a vote today in the Republican-controlled Senate Budget Committee to reject Reagan's budget, which is calculated by congressional budget experts to contain a $132 billion deficit even with the president's controversial proposed spending cuts.
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), ranking Democrat on the committee, proposed such a move last week but was thwarted when Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) abruptly adjourned the meeting.
Anticipating that the president's budget will be rejected when the committee resumes work today, Baker and other Republicans yesterday tried to downplay the significance of a such a vote.
After the meeting at the White House, Baker said he planned to talk to House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) to see "if there's some possibility" of working out a bipartisan budget agreement in Congress, possibly starting with spending and tax proposals that were on the bargaining table before the negotiations broke down.
Both Baker and Michel noted that O'Neill, even after five weeks of negotiations collapsed last week in a face-to-face meeting between himself and Reagan, had expressed a desire to avoid a partisan clash over the budget.
And a spokesman for O'Neill did not rule out further bipartisan talks. "The mood on our side is, 'Let's try to get something through the Congress,' " said the aide after learning of the Republicans' new overtures.
Baker indicated that Reagan, too, is receptive to the idea of further talks with Democratic leaders, despite some earlier indications from the White House that it might aim for a resurrection of the coalition of Republicans and conservative "Boll Weevil" Democrats that passed his budget and tax cuts last year.
"It is his Reagan's hope, and it is still my hope, that we can go back to the table, and work out, at the congressional level, a compromise" that would "utilize" proposals advanced during the Reagan-O'Neill meeting, said Baker.
Echoing the White House line, Baker said those proposals "are not now on the table, nor should they be." But he said they might be resurrected in the context of another bipartisan budget-drafting exercise.
One of those proposals included $122 billion in new taxes over the next three years, more than double what Reagan proposed in his February budget, and this could cause problems, especially with House Republicans who appear cooler than their Senate counterparts to any tax increases.
Michel told reporters yesterday that he's "had a hard time selling some of our members" on $20 billion in new taxes for next year, which is less than the $122 billion, three-year proposal calls for in fiscal 1983.
Baker, on the other hand, indicated support for $122 billion in new taxes.
Michel joined Baker in continuing to push for a bipartisan compromise. He said he had been in touch with "Boll Weevil" Democrats but added that "our principal goal is to work with the Democratic leadership as far as possible."
Despite Reagan's resumption of partisan budget attacks, Baker stressed that the president remains anxious for a bipartisan solution.
"The president still wants to work out a compromise bipartisan budget," said Baker. "He still wants to avoid a conflict, a fight. I think he thinks, and I think, that this country deserves better than to make this budget a poltical football in 1982."
Meanwhile, Budget Committee Chairman Domenici said in a Florida speech that Congress lacks the "political courage" to take such difficult steps as freezing Social Security and other benefits, a proposal that he has advanced. "We ought to try" but for the fact that the White House opposes such action as well, he said.