House Democrats pressed ahead with another recession relief bill yesterday, this one relaxing government loan programs for farmers, but the Reagan administration and economy-minded allies balked and forced postponement of final acti w0077 ----- r a BC-04/28/83-AID 2takes 04-28 0001 Recession Aid Halted in House By GOP, Allies By Albert B. Crenshaw and Ward Sinclair Washington Post Staff Writers
House Democrats pressed ahead with another recession relief bill yesterday, this one relaxing government loan programs for farmers, but the Reagan administration and economy-minded allies balked and forced postponement of final action on the floor.
The emergency agricultural credit bill was held up after Democratic leaders also pulled off the floor, apparently for lack of sure votes, a $760 million bill to aid unemployed homeowners faced with foreclosure. Republicans said it, too, would be too costly and counterproductive.
In a third variation on the same theme, Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman told the Senate Finance Committee that a $1.5 billion plan to provide medical insurance for the unemployed is not needed because "the problem is not as large as commonly perceived."
He said fewer unemployed people lack insurance than is generally believed, and that the administration will support an aid program only if new taxes are imposed to pay for it.
The Republicans are resisting any major aid program beyond the jobs bill Congress passed earlier this year, partly on grounds the recession is ending and that the extra assistance would come too late.
But even as Stockman and Republican legislators were making this argument, Agriculture Secretary John R. Block was touring a Salvation Army feeding center here and announcing an expansion of the government's surplus food giveaway program for the needy.
Block said the expansion, authorized by the recently passed jobs bill, will provide quantities of cornmeal, rice, flour, and honey to the poor in addition to surplus federal dairy products.
Democrats and Republicans have been split all year on the need for new anti-recession programs.
On the House floor yesterday, Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.), opposing the farm credit bill, termed it "no better a bailout than the ones for Chrysler or Boeing," while Rep. Ed Jones (D-Tenn.), citing growing farm-debt delinquencies, said, "We need this bill. We need it very badly."
The farm bill would provide $200 million in additional budget authority for the Farmers Home Administration, and it would forbid the secretary of agriculture from foreclosing on family farms that have shown good management practices and are in trouble due to circumstances beyond their control.
Similar themes were sounded in debate last week on the mortgage foreclosure relief bill, which Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.) called "compassionate and grounded in good sense" but Rep. George C. Wortley (R-N.Y.) derided as "an example of what's wrong with our political system."
That bill, which would provide money for government loans to unemployed or underemployed homeowners facing foreclosure, had been scheduled for final action yesterday, but the Democratic leadership pulled it back at the last minute, fearing it did not have the votes to beat back a Republican substitute.
That substitute, to be offered by Rep. Chalmers P. Wylie (R-Ohio), would delete all of the bill except a provision calling on the banking regulatory agencies not to penalize lending institutions that forbear from foreclosure.
Block's announcement of expanded USDA distribution of surplus commodities came against a backdrop of continuing congressional debate over bills that would require the administration to make more food available to the needy.
Block said that each state's share of dairy goods, rice, flour, honey and cornmeal will be based on unemployment and poverty levels.
The USDA, he said, also will provide $75 million worth of perishable commodities for use in cooperative emergency feeding facilities for indigents and $50 million to the states to help defray storage and distribution costs.
But at the same time, Block said that the USDA has decided to cut down the amount of surplus cheese it has distributed for more than a year to the needy because of complaints that the program is cutting into commercial sales.
The states have received more than 300 million pounds of processed cheese since the donation program began in December, 1981. Block said the cutback will "stabilize the cheese distribution at 25-35 million pounds per month" from recent levels that have run as high as 50 million pounds per month.
The new program calls for monthly distribution of 10 million pounds of butter, 5 million pounds of nonfat dry milk, 5 million pounds of flour, 2 million pounds of rice, 2 million pounds of cornmeal and an undetermined amount of honey.