Washington — Congress may be growing more independent of President Reagan, but a key leadership vote in the Senate Thursday surely warmed hearts in the White House, Monitor correspondent Julia Malone reports.
Senate Republicans ousted Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon, an outspoken critic of Mr. Reagan, from chairmanship of their campaign committee. By a 29-25 vote they elected Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, a conservative and solid Reagan supporter.
Senators played down the White House role in the contest. But the President's staff has clearly wanted Senator Packwood out of his leadership role ever since the Oregon senator charged that Reagan policies alienate all except ''white Anglo-Saxon males over 40'' from the Republican Party.
A key to the Lugar victory was the sponsorship of Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada, the President's closest friend on Capitol Hill.
While praising the victor, Senator Packwood still refused to back down from his stated concern that the GOP is too narrow. ''We lost blacks, Hispanics, and women,'' he said of the November elections, promising to continue his crusade for a broader party.
The committee Senator Lugar will chair will spearhead campaign fund-raising for 1984, when 19 Republican senators face reelection and the GOP will have an uphill battle to retain their majority in the upper chamber.