House and Senate negotiators took no action again yesterday in their third day of meetings to write a compromise tax-overhaul bill.
They postponed consideration of a list of provisions that are identical or similar in both bills on grounds that Senate conferees had not had time to look over the staff-drafted list of 106 items ranging from repeal of income averaging to life-insurance company deductions.
"We're ready," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) said when asked how soon the conference would start voting on the provisions. "Evidently there is a hang-up in the Senate . . . with respect to what we intend to do."
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) said Friday he would like to reach agreement on broad outlines of tax revision first, then fill in the details later. Other Senate conferees agreed yesterday. "Most people want to deal with the big issues first," said Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.).
Rostenkowski said he wants to approve the similar provisions so that congressional aides can begin the enormous task of putting the final tax bill into precise legal language.
"There has been a suggestion we don't vote on anything until we vote on everything," he said. "That makes it very difficult for the staff to draft."
The House and Senate bills reduce tax rates for individuals and corporations and wipe out or limit numerous deductions. But the Senate bill generally hits individual deductions more; the House measure cracks down harder on business. And they differ in countless minute details.
The conference will not meet again until Thursday because the Ways and Means and Finance panels will be occupied for two days with nontax work.