The House and Senate worked Thursday to finish similar $1.2 trillion federal budgets for next year, but the chairman of the House's tax-writing committee says Republicans might delay necessary revenue-raising measures.
The House by voice vote approved an amendment adding $175 million to its budget's veterans health care allocation, which was already above President Bush's recommendation.Both chambers planned votes on several amendments through the day. But they expected to finish action without dramatically altering the fiscal 1990 spending blueprint.
The budgets reflect a pact reached last month between Bush and congressional leaders, which promises to shrink next year's deficit to just above $99 billion, in part by collecting $5.3 billion more in taxes.
A partisan showdown looms over the composition of those taxes.
Bush claims $4.8 billion of that can be raised by actually cutting a tax. He says slashing capital gains taxes would cause the economy to grow, with tax revenues growing proportionately.
Democrats - including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois - have called the idea a money-loser that would do little more than help the rich.
Speaking on the House floor, Rostenkowski said that Democrats on his panel would not seek any new revenues unless Republicans went along. With Bush's "no new taxes" campaign pledge, Democrats are leery of being depicted as the party that favors higher taxes.
"I will not encourage or support a revenue increase that does not have the support of the president and a majority of members of both sides of the aisle on my committee," he said.
Rostenkowski told a reporter he expected Bush to cajole Republican lawmakers, if necessary, to support any tax deal reached between the administration and congressional Democrats.