President Reagan won another appropriations fight in the Democratic-controlled House yesterday as the House failed by 32 votes to override his veto of a $5.9 billion emergency spending bill for many government agencies and programs.
The House then agreed to a conference with the Senate to work out differences on a stripped-down alternative that eliminates most of the spending that Reagan had characterized as excessive.
However, House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) told reporters that House Democrats would definitely try in conference to restore funds for several programs, including the Coast Guard, summer jobs for young people and community service jobs for the elderly.
A weeks-long snarl over the so-called urgent supplemental appropriations bill has left many agencies without money to continue paying salaries through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, forcing furloughs and reduced operating levels.
Their fate remains unclear in light of O'Neill's insistence on some spending restorations and the administration's apparent reluctance to accept any more spending than the Republican-controlled Senate has approved.
The House-Senate conference committee may meet as early as today.
The House vote yesterday was 242 to 169 to override Reagan's veto, 32 votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override.It came less than an hour after the House cast its first vote to override a Reagan veto, involving a copyright measure.
The vote on the money bill was Reagan's second veto victory on the same issue. Earlier, the House sustained his veto of an even bigger spending bill, calling for $8.9 billion and including $3 billion in funds to help stimulate the depressed housing industry.
Even though the bill had been scaled back by dropping the housing money, Reagan picked up votes for his second veto. The first veto had been sustained, 253 to 151.
Reagan's success in the House with vetoes on fiscal 1982 spending measures strengthens his hand as the White House and Congress approach potentially bigger spending fights over fiscal 1983 money bills, which Congress will begin considering this summer.
Reagan used a veto strategy to force cuts in a big catch-all spending bill last fall, and many members of both parties expect that he will do so again this year to keep down domestic spending.
House Democrats argued in vain yesterday that proposals in the vetoed $5.9 billion spending bill were within the Reagan-endorsed budget Congress approved earlier this summer.
Republicans, led by Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) argued that the proposed spending nevertheless was more than Reagan wanted and would add more than $1 billion to the anticipated fiscal 1982 deficit of more than $100 billion.
The biggest items in the stripped-down bills headed for conference are funds for sewer grants, food stamps and guaranteed student loans.
The Senate added $767 million for various other programs but left out money for several programs favored by O'Neill and the House Democrats, including $63 million for summer youth jobs, $210.6 million for jobs for the elderly and $30.5 million for the Coast Guard.