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Compromise Over Defense Outlay Hinted

April 01, 1985|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The White House indicated today that it might compromise with Senate Republicans on defense spending next fiscal year, but Senate GOP leader Robert Dole of Kansas denied reports that the two sides had settled on a 3% cap on Pentagon spending growth.

The Senate leaders and White House aides continued to meet today in search of agreement on a budget package.

The two sides started out far apart on military spending, with President Reagan seeking a 6% increase above inflation and the GOP-led Senate Budget Committee advocating nothing above the inflation rate for the Pentagon in fiscal 1986.

No Deal Yet

White House spokesman Larry Speakes said no deal had been struck with Senate leaders on limiting the growth in defense spending next year to a compromise figure of 3%. But he said a report that Reagan might accept 3% Pentagon budget growth in exchange for Senate approval of his proposed cutbacks in aid to farmers and other domestic programs "omits a few items that we're still talking to them about."

"Nothing is settled and won't be until we agree on an entire package," he said.

Dole also discounted the reported 3% compromise on military spending.

"We're talking about dollars (not percentages)," the Senate GOP leader told reporters. Asked if those dollars added up to a 3% hike, Dole replied, "No."

Hoped for Agreement

The White House had hoped to reach a budget agreement with the Republican senators by the end of the week so the budget could go to the Senate floor, but Senate leaders were pessimistic that the Senate would begin consideration of the budget before the spring recess begins Friday.

Senate Democratic leader Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia said he would prefer for the Republicans to get a budget on the floor and then let Democrats "work their will" on it, rather than include Democrats in private meetings.

Byrd turned down an offer from Dole to meet privately on the budget, aides said.

"We Democrats have not seen their budget. I don't think they have one yet," Byrd said. "Until there is a budget that we Democrats see and examine, we don't know what approaches will need to be taken."

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