Used to be that only the Republicans were known as the Party of the Rich. But in these confusing times, pundits may have to think again: Both parties, it seems, provide their chairmen with chauffeur-driven limousines.

Republican Party Chairman Frank F. Fahrenkopf Jr. moves around in a Lincoln Town Car leased at the rate of "less than $5,000" a year, said a Republican National Committee spokesman.

And top Dem Paul G. Kirk Jr. is also driven in a Lincoln Town Car, leased for $3,425 per annum.

What salaries are paid the chauffeurs is not on record. School's Out . . .

When Congress passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction law, it included month-by-month deadlines for compliance, along with some self-imposed penalties to ward off procrastination. One of these was a provision barring the House from taking its Fourth of July recess until it passed all its appropriations bills and "reconciliation" legislation to achieve the deficit reductions.

With budget negotiations stalled and the recess scheduled to start at the end of next week, the House yesterday sprang into action. It gave unanimous consent to an obliquely worded motion, offered by the Democratic leadership with no opposition from Republicans, that waives the requirement for pre-recess bill passage.

This means both chambers can go home without even the bother of pro-forma sessions that would otherwise have been required. It also preserves Congress' virtually perfect record for missing deadlines it imposed on itself for complying with the new budget law. Turn of the Scrooge . . .

According to a June 19 report by the General Accounting Office, the Office of Personnel Management has started presenting federal agencies with a bill of $450 for an investigation of each Senior Executive Service employe nominated for a SES rank award. Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), who chairs the House subcommittiee on Civil Service, calls this "a very bad idea."

Notes the GAO, "the purpose of its investigation is to screen out any distinguished rank award nomineee whose conduct or background may prove embarrassing to the president."

OPM hasdiscovered 10 or 15 such embarrassments among the 474 employes who have been nominated.