Spending Bill Goes To Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Underscoring President Reagan’s threat of a veto, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said today a massive spending bill narrowly passed by the House would tie the president’s hands ″at a very critical juncture in U.S.-Soviet relations.″
Speakes told reporters the president ″takes major exception″ to restrictions written into the bill that would affect the Salt II treaty, nuclear testing, strategic defense, anti-satellite tests and chemical weapons.
The measure, the biggest spending bill in the nation’s history, passed by a one-vote margin Thursday night and is headed for the Senate.
Speakes described it as ″a bill that the president will veto if it is not straightened out in the Senate and in the conference″ with House members that will follow Senate action.
Noting that House Republicans voted 157-15 against the measure, Speakes said the administration believes this ″gives us strength″ to fashion a more acceptable bill in the conference committee.
″The president takes major exception to five policy areas in defense that would tie his hands at a very critical juncture in U.S.-Soviet relations,″ Speakes said. ″These are five areas where we have major discussions going on with the Soviets and (the restrictions) literally make negotiations impossible.″
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said today the Senate would take up the bill early next week, but said substantial changes will be needed.
″They really loaded it up,″ Dole told reporters. ″Everything but the kitchen sink is in that House resolution.
The $562 billion measure passed in the House by 201-200, as disgruntled Republicans joined with Democrats upset over the loss of revenue sharing and other policies in the bill to nearly defeat it.
″The Republicans voted pretty solidly,″ said Rep. Jamie Whitten, D-Miss., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
″These other fellows are upset over revenue sharing,″ he said after Thursday’s vote. Forty-three Democrats voted against the legislation.
The huge measure, known as a continuing resolution, was created because Congress has failed to pass any of the 13 separate appropriations bills for the 1987 fiscl year, which begins Oct. 1.
If federal agencies don’t have spending authority by then, most will legally be required to shut down.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider its own version of the package today, with full Senate action expected early next week.
Ensuing House-Senate negotiations could make the final language more to the president’s liking, and the timing could make it a take-it-or-leave- it proposition if Reagan wants to avert a government crisis.
Congress plans to adjourn Oct. 3. In a similar situation in 1981, Reagan vetoed a continuing resolution and ordered the government shut down - including the Washington Monument.
To forestall a crisis, Congress can pass and the president can sign a short-term, stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government operating at current levels while a compromise is worked out. House leaders were already considering the possibility.
″It doesn’t take long to write one of those,″ House Majority Leader Jim Wright, D-Texas, said.
The Reagan administration strongly objects to the House approval of only $283.5 billion for the military, $33.7 billion less than the administration requested. White House budget director James C. Miller III said the minimum the president would accept was the $292 billion pending in the Senate’s version.
The House also wrapped into the omnibus package the list of arms control measures it had passed separately in its defense bill, all of which the administration opposes. They would:
-Freeze spending on ″Star Wars″ research.
-Continue a ban on final-stage tests of anti-satellite weapons.
-Ban for one year, starting Jan. 1, almost all U.S. nuclear weapons tests, as long as the Soviets continue to observe their self-imposed test ban.
-Block production of chemical weapons, which is scheduled to start in fiscal 1987 for the first time since 1969.
-Require continued adherence to the SALT II nuclear treaty by banning spending on any weapons which would put the U.S. over the numerical sublimits of various types of weapons in the treaty.
The administration also objected to dozens of domestic policy choices, ranging from a cutoff of money for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to a buy- American provision for offshore oil rigs.
Continuing the revenue sharing program would have added another piece of veto bait.
House leaders, trying to cut the deficit, quietly removed the $3.4 billion from the bill that would have saved the subsidy for local governments in fiscal 1987.
Mayors and other municipal officials were lobbying hard for the money, and many House members stood up to support them.
″Communities will go bankrupt,″ said Rep. Austin Murphy, D-Pa.
Whitten himself said it was ″ridiculous″ to drop the popular program.
But Rep. Jack Brooks, D-Texas, argued that the federal government couldn’t afford to share its revenue because of the huge deficits. ″We aren’t earning this money the old fashioned way. We’re borrowing it,″ he said.
With the removal of revenue sharing and a small across-the-board cut from domestic and military programs toward drug-eradication efforts, House leaders estimated the $562 billion in spending authority would result in $558 billion in cash outlays in fiscal 1987, both within budget targets.
House and Senate budget writers were scheduled today to begin formal talks toward compromise on a companion deficit-reduction bill, designed to bring the deficit in the new fiscal year down below the $154 billion limit in the Gramm- Rudman budget-balancing law.
Most of that measure’s deficit savings, about $13 billion in the Senate version and $15 billion in the House’s, would come from selling government assets, increasing user fees, and making accounting changes.
Before Congress’ adjournment, lawmakers must also confront a third major money decision - raising the national debt so the Treasury can meet its obligations.
Both chambers have approved a new debt ceiling of $2.323 trillion, but the measure has been tied up for weeks because of disagreements between the two chambers on a number of other issues.