WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders, short on support, Friday declined for the second straight day to permit a test vote on a three-year, $300-billion package of spending cuts that would curtail many politically popular domestic programs, including Social Security.
"The reason we're not going to vote today is because we don't have the votes today," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) said.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) told reporters that he is "still optimistic" but added that no vote will be held before Tuesday.
Meanwhile, President Reagan lobbied reluctant Republicans in person and on the telephone in hopes of rallying enough support to sustain a symbolic vote of approval before any amendments are considered.
Republican leaders were unable to persuade about six GOP senators to go along with the budget package, which would cut $52 billion from a fiscal 1986 deficit estimated to exceed $200 billion.
Before postponing the vote Friday, Dole met with some Republican holdouts, including Alfonse M. D'Amato of New York, Paula Hawkins of Florida, Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut, Bob Kasten of Wisconsin, Mark Andrews of North Dakota and Charles McC. Mathias Jr. of Maryland. Most appeared to be unconvinced.
D'Amato and Hawkins met with Reagan at the White House but said later that they remained opposed to a provision slowing the rise of Social Security benefits.
"I am tired of the budget process terrorizing our senior citizens every time the budget comes out," Hawkins said after the meeting.
Working With Dole
But D'Amato did not flatly rule out the possibility of voting for the GOP package on the first round and said he was working with Dole on a "method for resolving this issue."
The Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate, but their majority is reduced because Sen. John P. East of North Carolina is hospitalized with an illness.
Dole's concession that he does not yet have the votes to approve the package prompted Democrats to increase efforts to rally support for alternatives of their own.
Senate Minority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) told reporters that he is attempting to piece together a budget that has "broad support" but would not give any details.