The Senate appeared within striking distance of achieving its target for deficit reduction yesterday as most legislative committees met their quotas for program cuts and an accord was reached among appropriators on reductions in discretionary spending.
While Congress has some distance to go before nailing down the reduction in the deficit, Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) reported that Senate committees thus far are about $700 million short of the goal of cutting $55.5 billion from the deficit for fiscal 1986, which began yesterday.
The House is not expected to tally up its savings until Thursday, and it was unclear yesterday whether its targets would be met.
The $700 million shortfall in the Senate could be made up from cutbacks in housing and related programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate Banking Committee, which was still struggling late yesterday to come up with its quota of savings.
As reported to the Budget Committee, three-year savings from permanent program cuts amounted to $75.2 billion, only slightly short of the target of $75.5 billion that was included in the congressional budget resolution passed earlier in the year. With additional savings from programs under the Banking Committee, the target would be exceeded by about $10 billion, Domenici said.
Another area of dispute was savings from fiscal 1986 appropriations bills, and that appeared headed toward an accommodation yesterday.
Under pressure from the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee agreed to try to squeeze up to $2.5 billion from pending money bills that were deemed by the budgeteers to exceed target figures for outlays in fiscal 1986.
It did so after the Senate, going along with objections raised by Domenici and Sen. Lawton Chiles (Fla.), ranking budget Democrat, voted last week to cut the Treasury-Postal appropriations bill to bring it within the target figures. The vote raised the prospect of a similar fate for other spending measures unless they were cut to come within budget limits for outlays.
Action on appropriations bills had been held up pending resolution of the dispute. Appropriations subcommittees are supposed to draft the cuts and report back to the committee by Thursday.