The House Budget Committee, brushing aside Democratic leaders' qualms about raising taxes without Republican support, yesterday approved a budget for next year that more than meets Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction targets by increasing revenues, cutting defense and freezing most domestic programs.
In contrast to the bipartisan budget approved by the Republican-controlled Senate last week, the Democratic-drafted House plan was voted out of committee on a basically party-line vote of 21 to 11 after Republicans refused to go along with the tax increases and the size of the defense spending cut.
Republicans complained they had been dealt out from the start and informed only late Wednesday of the Democrats' plan. "You cannot call the night before . . . and call it negotiations," said Rep. Lynn M. Martin (R-Ill.).
Despite objections raised earlier by House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) and other Democratic leaders to tax increases unless they had bipartisan support, a leadership aide said the committee's action had the "acquiescence" of party leaders.
Committee chairman William H. Gray III (D-Pa.) said he expected the plan will have the support of O'Neill and other party leaders when it comes to the House floor, possibly next week. But he added that taxes in excess of those recommended by President Reagan could be dropped unless House Republicans support them.
House Majority Whip Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) also said Democratic leadership support for the taxes remains conditional on GOP support.
The $994.3 billion budget -- just under the Senate's $1 trillion plan -- would reduce deficits by about $38 billion to $137 billion. This is $7 billion less than the $144 billion deficit target set by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and the deficit number approved by the Senate.
It includes the Senate's plan to raise taxes and other revenues by $13.2 billion, about $7 billion more than Reagan proposed in his budget for next year. The excess over Reagan's request would go toward reducing the deficit below the $144 billion target, with half held in a special reserve that would be put off-limits for spending purposes.
The budget proposal would cut Reagan's $320 billion defense spending authority request to $285 billion, or $16 billion less than the Senate proposed and $2 billion under current levels.
It would generally freeze domestic spending at current levels, basically in line with what the Senate proposed, although new funding is provided for some health, education and training efforts for low-income people.
Like the Senate plan, it would set cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other government pensions at 2 percent unless inflation is higher. The House plan would provide federal pay increases of 3 percent; the Senate would increase pay by 2 percent.
Efforts to increase defense spending and cut back the tax increase were rejected, mainly on party-line votes.
But even half the Republicans on the committee refused to go along with a proposal by its ranking GOP member, Ohio Rep. Delbert L. Latta, to increase defense spending authority to the level recommended by the Senate. It was rejected by a bipartisan vote of 27 to 6.
Republicans banded together, however, to support a split-the-difference compromise to authorize $293 billion in military spending for next year, proposed by Rep. Denny Smith (R-Ore.) and rejected by a closer vote of 20 to 12.
Also rejected on a party-line vote of 20 to 13 was a proposal from Rep. Connie Mack III (R-Fla.) to eliminate $4.7 billion of the tax hike, which Democrats wanted set aside for deficit reduction only.
Republicans complained that Congress probably would find a way to spend the money. Democrats disagreed.
"If Congress could put [its] grubby hands on it, we'd be caught . . . and there would be a reaction," responded Gray. The tax increase is only a "pittance," complained Rep. James C. Slattery (D-Kan.), adding that it was "a defiance of common sense . . . absolute nuts" even to debate whether additional revenues are needed in light of current deficits.
Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), meanwhile, promised Reagan yesterday that he would work in a House-Senate conference on the budget to bring defense more in line with the president's goals, according to an aide.
Dole's pledge came in a telephone call from Reagan to Dole in which the president reportedly thanked the majority leader for his efforts on the budget, tax overhaul and gun-control legislation.
Dole expressed his position on defense even more strongly in comments reported by syndicated columnist Donald Lambro in yesterday's Washington Times. In the column, which a Dole aide confirmed as correct, Lambro described telephone conversations between Dole and White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan during the Senate budget debate. "We pledged we would break up the conference if we had to unless we worked out something agreeable to the White House on defense," Dole told Lambro.
Before the House panel's vote yesterday, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger strongly criticized the budget plan as one that "would destroy the recent and impressive momentum we have made in rearming America."
Weinberger's statement said the plan would send the Pentagon "back into the chaotic, unstable, roller-coaster defense budget trends which led to previous inefficiencies and caused large weapon unit cost increases."
The only Republican to vote for the budget plan was Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.); Rep. W. Henson Moore (R-La.) voted present.