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70 Republicans Go Along as House Revives Tax Bill : Reagan's Lobbying Turns Tide

December 17, 1985|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — The House, reversing a stunning setback it had dealt President Reagan last week, responded to pleas from the President and his Democratic allies today and agreed to put his prized tax-overhaul initiative to a vote.

By a 258-168 margin, the House cleared the way for final action on the sweeping tax measure later in the day. Seventy of the 182 Republicans joined 188 Democrats in siding with the President; 58 Democrats and 110 Republicans voted to let tax overhaul die.

When the tax plan was jeopardized last Wednesday, only 14 Republicans were with the President. The turnaround came after Reagan personally lobbied GOP members to keep the measure alive so the Republican-run Senate could work on it next year, and promised at least 50 Republicans would vote for the measure. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, kept their forces intact.

The lopsided vote today indicated the bill might pass, but it did not guarantee it.

50 GOP Votes Cited

White House spokesman Larry Speakes said the Administration was "hopeful" that the bill would pass, considering the fact that Reagan had produced the 50 Republican votes House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) had demanded for the bill.

"They asked, we delivered," Speakes said. "We lived up to our end of the bargain. We're counting on the Speaker to deliver" enough Democrats.

O'Neill, however, said he was still unsure that there was enough support for the bill. He called the measure "our golden opportunity" to adjust the tax code but added, "whether or not we can pass it I don't know." Numerous Democratic defections could cause the bill to fail, despite the new GOP support.

Speakes said that if the bill does not pass today, probably killing hope of tax revision for years to come, "we've lived up to our end of the bargain. . . . Let the chips fall where they may."

Reagan's Promise

Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), who led last week's GOP revolt, today urged a vote for the bill. Although the Democratic bill has not been changed in the ensuing week, Kemp said, "the President is now directly involved in this process" and is promising to veto any final bill that does not meet his standards.

The sweeping measure dramatically came to life late Monday, several hours after Reagan spent nearly an hour talking to House Republicans, most of whom ignored him last Wednesday in voting to block the bill from being considered.

After meeting with Reagan, however, most House Republicans, including members of the GOP leadership, said they still opposed the committee's nearly 1,400-page tax measure because it could prompt an economic disaster.

"From my point of view, unaltered and unmodified, I cannot vote for" the committee bill, said House GOP leader Robert H. Michel of Illinois.

Bill 'Very Flawed'

On the CBS "Morning News" program today, Rep. Dick Cheney (R-Wyo.), head of the Republican Policy Council, said, "I still feel very strongly that the bill is very flawed, (and) the vast majority of Republicans remain opposed to it."

As part of the deal that produced the GOP votes, Republicans won a chance to make some floor adjustments to their own tax revision bill--a sweeping alternative given virtually no chance in the Democrat-dominated House.

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