The House, frustrated by the budget impasse with the Senate, moved ahead on its own yesterday, approving by voice vote the first of 13 spending bills for the 1986 fiscal year.
The House took up the spending measure, which would provide about $15.3 billion for energy and water development programs, after voting 239 to 181 to waive the budget act, which requires the House and Senate to agree on a joint budget resolution setting spending targets before any spending bills can be taken up.
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said yesterday that the House was determined to pass as many as nine spending bills before the August recess regardless of whether it had reached a budget agreement with the Senate. Conferees for the two chambers are stalled primarily over spending for domestic programs.
O'Neill said the House would keep the bills within the spending limits set in the House-approved budget resolution.
The waiver of the budget act approved by the House yesterday also would apply to two other spending bills -- for the legislative branch and for the Commerce, Justice and State departments -- scheduled for floor action this week.
Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and several other lawmakers argued yesterday that providing a waiver would just take the pressure off House and Senate budget conferees.
But Rep. Butler Derrick (D-S.C.), a member of the Budget Committee, said that while it is possible that a budget compromise may be worked out this week, "the business of this nation, the business of the House and the business of the government has to go on."
The $15.3 billion price tag on the energy and water bill is about $217 million below last year's level and $7 million less than the Reagan administration requested for fiscal 1986.
The bill would provide about $3.7 billion for water projects across the nation.
The House killed funding for about half the water projects when they were included by the House Appropriations Committee recently in a supplemental spending bill for the rest of this fiscal year.
The concern then was that many of the projects had not been approved for funding but were added at the last minute by members of the Appropriations Committee. In addition, Congress had not yet agreed to a new system of cost sharing that would force local government and interests to pick up more of the tab for the projects.
But this time there was little opposition to the projects because the House Public Works and Transportation Committee recently approved legislation authorizing many of them and the bill provided for cost sharing. The public works bill, if approved by the House, would apply to the new water projects included in the energy and water bill.
The legislation approved yesterday would also provide $11 billion for the Energy Department, $7.6 billion of which would go for military-related activities, including research, testing and production of nuclear warheads.