House Majority Leader James C. Wright Jr. (D-Tex.) said yesterday that House Democrats are considering including a minimum corporate income tax in a Democratic alternative to President Reagan's 1986 budget proposal.
Wright said that freezing most federal programs has strong support, but that "less than 10 percent" of House Democrats would go along with postponing for a year the annual cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security and other benefit programs.
As a sign of the growing support for a spending freeze, the House voted 407 to 4 yesterday to hold the 1986 budget authority for the National Science Foundation at its 1985 level.
Reagan and the House Science and Technology Committee had recommended increasing NSF's current $1.5 billion budget by $100 million next year.
But a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including liberals and conservatives, proposed an amendment to eliminate the increase, arguing that the only way to control the federal deficit was to cut out all requests for higher spending.
"Before we can deal with the deficit we have to deal with requests for increased spending," said Rep. Bruce A. Morrison (D-Conn.), who wrote one of the freeze amendments. "Now we are in position to say to the House Budget Committee there is a mood for a freeze."
It was the second time in the last two weeks that the House has voted for a spending freeze. On April 3, the House voted 369 to 36 for an amendment by Morrison and Rep. Carl D. Pursell (R-Mich.) that froze spending for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at this year's level.
Lawmakers and congressional officials said yesterday that it was unclear whether sentiment for a freeze would hold firm when legislation authorizing spending for more politically popular programs, such as education, defense and housing, are brought to the floor.
"There's clear sentiment for a big freeze," one congressional official said, "it's just that these votes so far aren't the tough ones."
The minimum corporate tax proposal is drawing increased support from Democrats, Wright said. He mentioned a 15 percent minimum rate and said that would provide nearly $11 billion in deficit reductions.
Yesterday's vote occurred as Budget Committee Democrats met privately and agreed to come up with a Democratic alternative to Reagan's budget that would produce about $50 billion in deficit reductions next year.
"We're aiming for that," said Wright, who is member of the committee. "We will reduce the deficit submitted by the president by a substantial amount . . . but in a much fairer manner."
Senate Republican leaders and the White House two weeks ago agreed to a budget compromise that would result in $52.2 billion in deficit reductions by eliminating 17 domestic programs and substantially reducing others. Spending for defense, however, would be increased by 3 percent above inflation.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) took a dim view of pressure from some GOP senators for restoration of domestic programs that were cut in the budget compromise.
"I don't believe there's any need to make changes," Dole said as he continued a week-long series of meetings aimed at assuaging GOP concerns about proposed domestic spending cuts. He met yesterday with senators from urban states and reportedly held firm against modification of planned cutbacks in urban programs.
But Dole also indicated that the deficit-reduction plan may need some "help" from Reagan if it is to survive an anticipated barrage of challenges from Democrats and dissident Republicans when it comes to the Senate floor early next week.
He said he had urged White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan to persuade the president to make a television speech on behalf of the plan. "I'm still hopeful there'll be a big TV effort," Dole said.
Dole and some other Senate Republicans have expressed concern that the administration's big push for release of $14 million in aid to antigovernment insurgents in Nicaragua is getting in the way of White House lobbying efforts for the deficit-reduction plan. House and Senate votes on the Nicaragua issue are expected Tuesday, a day after the Senate begins work on the deficit package.