In its second vote this week to beef up social programs cut in the first two years of the Reagan administration, the House agreed yesterday to spend $200 million next year--more than twice the current amount--to help U.S. workers who lose their jobs to foreign competition.
The vote was 218 to 194, largely along party lines, with the administration and House Republicans arguing that the program, called trade adjustment assistance, should be eliminated altogether.
In another spending decision yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote a $96.2 billion funding bill for the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services. That total was $3.5 billion more than President Reagan had asked for, but Republicans on the committee said they had talked with White House officials and thought the higher figure might well be accepted.
Later in the day a Senate Appropriations subcommittee also approved a Labor-HHS bill about $345 million higher than the House version.
The Democrats hope to gain from their votes to reverse the 1981 "Reagan revolution" even if the spending increases fail in the Senate. For the 1984 campaign they want to sharpen their differences with the president on what they have labeled "the fairness issue."
Earlier this week the House approved $11 billion for 10 other social welfare programs that Reagan had successfully targeted for cuts in 1981. That total was $1.6 billion more than the administration proposed for the 10, which include major energy, feeding and education programs for the poor.
The program approved yesterday, aiding workers laid off because of competition from imports, provides a particularly dramatic example of Reagan's initial budget-cutting and how the Democrats are moving to reverse it.
Responding to a deep auto industry recession--and the approaching 1980 election--President Carter spent $1.4 billion on such assistance during his last year in office. Reagan, in his first budget, cut the program 90 percent--to $132 million--and Congress went along. Funding for the current year was reduced again, to $92.5 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The bill the House passed yesterday, according to the CBO's estimate, would raise outlays next year to $217 million.
The Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill approved in committee yesterday includes about $70 billion for "entitlement" programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. That amount is set by other legislation and was not at issue in the committee. The bill also contains $26 billion in so-called discretionary spending for a variety of programs including public service jobs and federal health research.
On the key vote for the trade adjustment assistance bill, all Maryland representatives except Marjorie S. Holt (R), who was absent, voted in favor. All Virginia representatives voted against it except Norman Sisisky (D) and Frederick C. Boucher (D), who supported the bill, and Stanford E. Parris (R), who was absent.