WASHINGTON -- The conservative Democrats who helped pass President Reagan's budget and tax cuts last year say they will again work with conservative Republicans on this year's spending plan.
Called 'Boll Weevils', the group of mostly southern conservative Democrats told reporters Wednesday they have again broken with the House Democratic leadership.
And once again they will have the support of President Reagan.
'The president called me and told me he is willing to work with us,' Rep. Phil Gramm, D-Texas, said following a 30 minute meeting of the conservatives.
Gramm said Reagan would work with them through David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Rep. Charles Stenholm, D-Texas, leader of the group -- which claims 47 members -- said they would 'put together a bipartisan coalition of conservatives. From this day forward, we are going to look for alternative ways to come up with a package that can attract 218 votes.'
Stenholm said they are unanimously opposed to both the Democratic budget presented by House Budget Committee Chairman James Jones, D-Okla., and the GOP plan sponsored by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
The 'Boll Weevils' swung the House in favor of Reagan's massive budget and tax cuts last year.
But congressional sources said Wednesday the 'Boll Weevils' were able to exert enormous influence because Republicans were united in their support of Reagan's program last year.
The Republicans appear less united this year, and that could weaken the power of the group, they said.
Gramm said the group would 'work with conservatives in the House, Democrats and Republicans,' to produce an alternative budget that will 'reduce the deficit as much as we can and still get 218 votes (a House majority). If we get 219 votes, we didn't reduce it enough.'
Stenholm said the group believes the Jones budget raises taxes too high and cuts defense spending too much. The group also dislikes the manner in which the Domenici budget dealt with the impact of entitlement programs.
He said they presented House Speaker Thomas O'Neill, D-Mass., with some budget recommendations three weeks ago, but, 'We have been totally ignored.'
'Those negotiations broke down yesterday (Tuesday) when it became apparent no sincere effort would be made from our side of the aisle to come to grips' with the issues the 'Boll Weevils' regard as serious, Stenholm said.