Gramm Sidelined for Crucial Budget Talks
Jun. 07, 1995
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Veteran Senate Budget Committee member Phil Gramm finds himself shut out of crucial negotiations with the House on eliminating the annual federal deficits by the year 2002.
And the fellow Republican who did it, Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici of New Mexico, said Wednesday he excluded the Texan from the Senate bargaining team because Gramm had said he would not support the Senate version with its no tax cuts.
That and the fact that Gramm also is running for president, said Domenici's spokesman.
So with negotiations beginning Thursday on blending the conflicting House and Senate budget-balancing versions together, Gramm is on the sideline, vowing to enlist outside support to defeat the package that emerges if it is not to his liking.
``I intend to mobilize outside groups,'' Gramm said. ``I believe that if I oppose this budget, it will not pass.''
When the Senate approved its budget resolution last month, Gramm voted for it so it could move on to the conference committee where House members would work to include tax cuts from their version into the final product, he said.
At the time of that vote, Gramm said he wanted spending cuts, tax breaks for families, incentives for growth and a balanced budget in seven years.
If that is not accomplished, ``I will not vote for that budget,'' he warned.
Gramm said Domenici had implied hose comments cost him a spot on the conference committee. In an interview, Domenici agreed.
``I read it to mean he's not going to conference supporting our measure,'' Domenici said.
In addition, Domenici spokesman Robert Stevenson said: ``He (Gramm) is a presidential candidate. It was the chairman's thinking it would be best in our conference and reaching an agreement if we could keep presidential politics out of the conference committee.''
Majority Leader Bob Dole, who also is running for the Republican presidential nomination and is supported by Domenici, had no part in the decision to omit Gramm, said Stevenson.
``This was strictly the chairman's decision,'' the aide said.
Six other Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee in addition to Domenici will be on the committee: Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Don Nickles of Oklahoma, Hank Brown of Colorado, Slade Gorton of Washington, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Trent Lott of Mississippi.
Gramm has seniority over Brown, Gorton, Gregg and Lott. Usually, lawmakers named to House-Senate bargaining committees are selected for their seniority.
Five Democrats also will be in the Senate contingent on the committee.
Gramm insisted that his plans to oppose any budget that did not meet his demands were ``not a dispute between Bob Dole and me or a dispute between Pete Domenici and me.''
``... This is a question of whether or not having run a campaign where we promised the American people that we would let families keep more of what they earn, that we would provide incentives for growth, and that we would cut spending enough to do all that to balance the budget, if now we have decided we are not going to do those things, then we are not being true to what we told the American people we would do.''
In another unusual situation, House Republicans selecting their own budget negotiators included a Democrat, said two GOP sources who declined to be identified.
The GOP chose Rep. Mike Parker, D-Miss., a conservative who has supported the GOP budget and even helped craft it. Parker has not ruled out switching his party affiliation, but so far has declined to do so.
The House negotiating panel will have 10 Republicans, Parker and eight other Democrats.