Senators Stick to Budget Limit on Social Security
Senate negotiators today turned down a House budget offer that did not limit Social Security benefits, and House Majority Leader Jim Wright suggested that budget talks might collapse entirely.
Wright said House bargainers will not bow to Senate pressure to scale back next year’s Social Security benefit increases.
“Failure of the conferees to agree is not going to delay us any further,” Wright told reporters. He said the Democratic-led House will not wait beyond the Fourth of July recess for a budget compromise and is ready to move ahead on individual spending bills.
The budget itself is not a piece of legislation but a set of spending ceilings and targets that congressional committees must abide by in passing spending legislation.
2 Weeks, No Agreement
A House-Senate conference committee has been meeting for two weeks to try to fashion a compromise 1986 budget and has yet to reach agreement on a single major item.
Wright’s is the most pessimistic assessment yet of prospects for a compromise.
Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash) complained that the House offer was “little more than cosmetic changes.”
Although House Budget Committee Chairman William H. Gray III (D-Pa.) said all items remain “on the table,” Wright (D-Tex.) said there is no sentiment in either party in the House to give on Social Security.
He said the new House proposal would trim $58 billion from next year’s projected $230-billion deficit--an increase in savings of $2 billion over the original House budget but $2 billion less in spending than contained in the Senate’s most recent offer.
Wright stressed that the latest House offer would allow the nation’s 36 million Social Security recipients and other beneficiaries of federal social programs to receive full cost-of-living increases in 1986.