House G.O.P. Revolts, Rejects Reagan-Backed Tax Measure
u Washington--House Republicans, dramatically breaking ranks with the White House, joined dissident Democrats last week to block consideration of a tax-reform bill that has been President Reagan's top domestic priority.
The 223 to 202 vote against tax reform came on a crucial procedural step, but the bill itself, HR 3838, was not defeated.
The legislation, the product of the Democratic-controlled Ways and Means Committee, remained in limbo late last week as President Reagan personally lobbied defectors from his own party to support the bill and the procedure under which it will be considered. Though Mr. Reagan has said he has problems with the Democratic bill, he had urged Republican House members to vote for it to keep the prospect for some kind of tax reform alive in the 99th Congress.
The Ways and Means bill contains provisions far more beneficial to education, for example, than the Reagan Administration proposal made in May.
In particular, it maintains the deductibility of state and local taxes, which the Administration had sought to eliminate, and permits charitable deductions for those who itemize 4their federal tax returns.
The day before the vote, Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote to all members of the House urging them to vote for the bill.
The defeat for the President came on a vote over the "rule," which governs the voting and debating procedure for a bill on the House floor. The Rules Committee, a bill's final stop before reaching the floor, barred any amendments and allowed votes on only the committee bill and a Republican-supported alternative.
The rule must be approved before the bill can be considered, and it was the rule that was defeated, with only 14 Republicans voting for it.
House Republicans objected to the prohibition on amendments, saying that they particularly wanted to amend a provision that would have harmed federal retirees.
The House Democratic leaders, who had supported the tax bill, appeared to take some pleasure in last week's vote. Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill told reporters, "If the President really cares about tax reform, he will deliver the votes. Otherwise, Dec. 11 will be remembered as the day Ronald Reagan became a 'lame duck' on the floor of the House."
Vol. 05, Issue 16