WASHINGTON -- A coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats once ran the House. It was reborn Thursday for at least one vote -- the 253-176 passage of President Reagan's budget plan.
But Democrats held better party discipline than many believed they could under the Reagan onslaught, and there was no landslide of moderate Democrats into the Reagan camp. Defections were held to Southern conservatives plus a few right-leaning Yankees and Westerners.
And not all Southern Democrats voted with Reagan. Many Southern and border state delegations split their votes, including Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and even Mississippi, where House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie Whitten stuck with the Democrats.
Of the 47 members of the Conservative Democratic Forum, strongly courted by Reagan, only three voted against him -- Rep. Carroll Hubbard of Kentucky, and Reps. Dave McCurdy and Wes Watkins of Oklahoma.
'I think for the first time perhaps since the '60s we have the makings of a bipartisan coalition,' White House chief of staff James Baker said today in an NBC interview. 'Whether we can continue to see that coalition function effectively remains to be seen.'
In a rare example of good attendance, every House member voted except for Rep. William Cotter, D-Conn., who is ill, and Speaker Thomas O'Neill, who does not vote except in case of a tie. There are four House vacancies.
All 190 House Republicans stuck with their president despite worries of some Northerners who feared a possible voter backlash against the Reagan budget cuts in the 1982 elections.
'Some of them felt they were falling on their swords,' said one GOP leader privately.
The 63 Democrats who voted with Reagan included a bloc of more than 50 conservative Southerners who have supported spending cuts and big defense budgets for years.
Ten other Democrats from outside the South joined in the crossover.
The non-Southern and non-border state Democrats who voted with Reagan were Reps. Bob Stump of Arizona; David Evans and Andrew Jacobs of Indiana; Don Albosta of Michigan, Jim Santini of Nevada; Tony Hall, Thomas Luken and Ronald Mottl of Ohio; and Eugene Atkinson and Gus Yatron of Pennsylvania.
The budget plan adopted by the House -- co-sponsored by Reps. Phil Gramm, D-Texas, and Delbert Latta, R-Ohio -- calls for more than $50 billion in spending cuts, increases defense spending and leaves room for a $54 billion tax cut in fiscal 1982.
But the budget only sets overall spending targets and it is now up to individual committees to decide where the specific cuts will be made.