The Senate Budget Committee sent a second big package of spending cuts to the Senate floor yesterday after declaring the Senate's Republican-controlled committees to be in full compliance with mandates of the budget that Congress approved last month.
But, in the House, the Democratic majority was balking and the Republican minority was threatening an all-out fight to force total compliance. Possible tactics include demanding action on spending cuts before tax increases and pushing for an omnibus substitute patterned after their winning budget alternatives of last year.
"All bets are off," said a House Republican leadership aide. "If it takes some procedural fighting or an attempt to wrap it all up in one package, we'll do it."
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) got in his licks, too, accusing the Republicans of pushing for a catch-all package of cuts because they are afraid of program-by-program votes.
"They haven't got the courage to vote on individual bills and let the people know where they stand," said O'Neill, who wants to break down the spending cuts into several packages.
In the Senate, the measure approved by the Budget Committee yesterday included $12.3 billion in spending cuts over the next three years, taken largely from cost-of-living increases in federal retirees' pensions and from food stamps and dairy price supports--all approved earlier by other Senate committees.
Together with $17.5 billion in savings approved earlier by the Finance Committee, Senate committees approved a total $29.8 billion in spending reductions by 1985--$2.6 billion more than the budget ordered.
"Every committee achieved the savings called for by the 'reconciliation' instructions," said Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), referring to the process under which Congress, in its budget, ordered its committees to come up with $27.2 billion in spending reductions through 1985.
Domenici was joined in praising the cuts by Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (S.C.), the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, who described the measure as "an honest demonstration that the congressional budget process works."
The second package of spending cuts is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate on Wednesday, and passage is expected. Republican leaders, however, expect a tough fight over the proposed 4 percent ceiling on inflation adjustments for pensions of military and civilian government workers.
The first package, which includes cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and general welfare, is currently on the Senate floor as part of the tax increase bill.
While prospects for the spending cuts look good in the Senate, their fate is less clear in the House, where several committees are balking at their prescribed cuts and the parties are warring over how to package them.
For example, the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee refused on Wednesday to impose the 4 percent pension ceiling that is included in the Senate measure.
The Republicans figure it will be easier to make such cuts if they are all in one package, enabling members to vote for a general deficit reduction instead of specific program cuts.
Time is drawing short, because Democratic leaders intend to start moving individual measures through the House next week, starting with reduced veterans' benefits and a sharply scaled-down federal pension measure. CAPTION: Picture, SEN. PETE V. DOMENICI. . .chops another $12.3 billion