The House agreed yesterday to extend the life of its Iran-contra committee into next year to provide for an orderly disposition of classified documents and continued access to the papers for those involved in follow-up investigations.

The agreement was reached after Republicans angrily accused Democrats of seeking a yearlong extension as a political gambit. The compromise does not specify a date for the committee to go out of business, but chairman Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.) said he expected the date would be March 1.

The committee is to continue operating with a skeleton staff until then so that its millions of pages of documents can be organized for transfer to the National Archives, and so that it can receive straggling documents from the White House and make them available to other House panels conducting probes.

Republicans objected to the initial Democratic plan, saying the House majority was really seeking to abuse the committee to continue attacks on President Reagan and his party throughout a presidential election year. The spat led to a 30-minute argument in the center of the House floor.

"This has sparked again the strong feelings of anger at the tyrannical tactics we have had to live with all year," said House Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.). "There are a lot of bad feelings toward {Speaker} Jim Wright's {D-Tex.} tactics here in the House."

During an animated dispute, Rep. Dick Cheney (R-Wyo.), the senior GOP member of the House Iran committee, stabbed his finger at the panel's completed report as he sparred with House Majority Leader Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.).

"They were more heated than I've ever seen them," said one Republican aide.

Without the agreement, the House committee would have gone out of existence at midnight Sunday.

Thousands of papers sent to the White House for declassification have not been returned, said Democratic aides, and the committee is still cataloging evidence and distributing it to other House panels. The information is particularly important for a probe by the House Judiciary crime subcommittee led by Rep. William J. Hughes (D-N.J.).

Hamilton had been negotiating an extension of the committee's life with Republicans for several weeks. When Hamilton brought a request for a full-year extension to the Rules Committee late Wednesday, "everybody just went up the wall," said Lott, who contended Republicans would have been willing to extend the panel through Feb. 15.

The Senate investigating committee has no precise expiration date. John Saxon, the acting staff director, said the panel hopes to wrap up by the end of January, after issuing a 3,000-page chronology of the affair and preparing 300,000 documents for transfer to the Archives.