Congress was fulfilling a deficit reduction agreement with President Reagan when it passed a $1.1 trillion federal budget for fiscal 1989, but a hefty deficit remains and spending priorities have already shifted.
The budget, approved by the House last month and the Senate on Monday by 58-29, shows a deficit of nearly $142 billion when not counting sales of government assets, which aren't counted under the Gramm-Rudman budget balancing law.
Here is a chart comparing President Reagan's budget priorities with the congressional budget resolution approved by the Senate on Monday. The figures are outlays in billions of dollars, based on estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.
Reagan Cong. Reagan Cong.The president's Office of Management and Budget says higher interest rates combined with government bailouts of banks could drive the deficit higher.
If it gets past $146 billion, OMB is required to order automatic, across-the-board spending cuts under the Gramm-Rudman law.
And the spending plan doesn't come close to meeting Gramm-Rudman's goals for the years after fiscal 1989, which are designed to force a balanced budget by fiscal 1993.
"This is a paltry, pathetic and completely meaningless reduction (f the deficit) during times of economic prosperity," complained Sen. William Armstrong, R-Colo. "We're just putting the whole problem off until after the election."
Senate Budget Committee chairman Lawton Chiles, D-Fla., conceded: "We've taken some steps in the right direction, but I'm afraid there's miles to go before we sleep."
The spending plan also was nearly two months after the April 15 deadline, creating confusion over the details of next year's federal spending policy.
Within total spending levels for military, foreign aid and domestic programs that were set by last fall's agreement with Reagan, the budget envisions increased federal spending on the space program, education, AIDS research, fighting drugs, and other election-year priorities.
But the resolution itself is non-binding, acting only as a guide for production of the annual spending legislation for running the government. And because of the delays, the House and Senate have been moving ahead with the regular spending bills that stray from the budget's priorities.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to include less money for education and space programs, shifting those funds to energy and interior agencies.
"We urge the appropriations committee to follow our lead and support the nation's future through increased funding for science and space programs," said Chiles, who had pushed hard for that new spending.
Those and other details of next year's federal spending will be settled in the next few months before the start of fiscal 1989.
Some of the policies envisioned in the budget:
-No new taxes for the next year beyond the $14 billion enacted last December under the agreement with Reagan.
-Overall budget increases of about half the inflation rate, including $294 billion for the military, $16.1 billion for foreign aid and $169.2 billion for domestic agencies.
-Rejection of Reagan's call to cancel several domestic programs, such as development grants to state and local governments.
-Full inflation increases for entitlement benefits, including Social Security, estimated at 4.2 percent.
-A 21 percent increase over current levels for science, space and technology programs, including the space shuttle program and the superconducting supercollider.
-About $4 billion for anti-drug programs, plus a provision allowing more to be spent if Congress and the president agree on a way to pay for it.
-A 4 percent pay raise for the military and civilian federal workers.
-Money for hiring 900 additional air traffic controllers and for modernizing the air traffic control system.
Overall spending would be about $5 billion above Reagan's request and $44 billion above this year's level. Total revenues would be about $964 billion.
The deficit in fiscal 1987 was $150.2 billion. The administration estimates it will drop slightly, to $146 billion, in fiscal 1988, which ends Sept. 30.
Reagan vs. congressional priorities
Foreign Aid 16.216.2
Space & Science 13.012.6
Nat'l Resources 16.216.3
Housing, Bus Credit 7.29.3
Social Security 233.5233.5
Vets Benefits 28.028.4
Gen'l Gov't 9.79.4
Net Interest 152.0152.0
Offset Recpts -49.0-50.5