House and Senate conferees agreed last night on a compromise jobs and recession relief program of about $4.6 billion after stripping it of a Senate proposal for $1.2 billion in extra revenue-sharing money that prompted a veto threat from the White House.
The compromise now goes to the House and Senate, which are expected to approve it by mid-week.
Republican lawmakers said President Reagan, who abandoned his earlier opposition to jobs legislation last month under pressure from both parties in Congress, is expected to sign the measure.
Before the revenue-sharing bonus to local governments was deleted, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.) warned that the measure, the product of delicate negotiations with the White House for more than a month, was in danger of being vetoed.
"There are very strong signals I'm getting that this bill is too high for the president to sign," said Hatfield, who added that the White House objected especially to the revenue-sharing money, under which localities would have received what amounts to an extra quarterly payment this year.
With the revenue-sharing money out, the bill's prospects of being signed were "100 percent" better, Hatfield said. Earlier, House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said he assumed that Reagan would sign the measure.
While the bill includes considerably more new spending authority than Reagan wanted, it apparently came well within the $5 billion limit that Republicans said the White House had set privately for the legislation, although an official tally of all of the spending had not been made last night.
Reagan earlier had endorsed a $4.3 billion program, but it included some money previously appropriated by Congress. These funds are not counted in the $4.6 billion package that the conferees approved.
The conferees were under pressure for quick action because the jobs package was linked to $5 billion to continue payment of unemployment benefits in 27 states and the District of Columbia, where existing funding is expected to run out by Wednesday.
The money had been expected to run out earlier, but the Labor Department has come up with additional money at the last minute on at least two occasions, enough to last at least through mid-week, according to department officials.
The jobs bill, the first anti-recession measure to pass both houses since Congress convened this year, includes about $225 million for food and shelter and several hundred million dollars for other social service programs. The bulk of the rest of the money would go for public works and public service jobs ranging from forestry work to prison repair.
About $2.1 billion would be targeted to areas of high and long-term unemployment, and as much as half of the biggest single item, $1 billion for community development block grants to the states, could be used for public service jobs, which some women's groups had wanted.
"This will guarantee a better break for women," whose advocates had argued that the bill's tilt toward construction jobs favored men, Rep. Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.) said.
The compromise included some of the earmarking of specific projects that earlier brought protests of "pork-barrel" politics on jobs legislation, as well as $33 million for a highway demonstration project that his colleagues thought would wind up in the district of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.).
While there was no official estimate of how many jobs the legislation would create, House Democrats had estimated that their $4.9 billion version of the bill would have created as many as 1 million part-time jobs, the equivalent of full-time employment for 400,000.
The $4.6 billion was a compromise between the $4.9 billion House bill and the $4 billion left in the original $5.2 billion Senate bill after the revenue-sharing money was removed.