WASHINGTON — IT is now the turn of the House of Representatives to begin molding its version of day-care legislation, in the wake of the Senate passage of a child-care package late last week. The process is expected to take several months. In the House the key question is the same as existed in the Senate: Can Democratic leaders compromise with the White House and Republican members to ensure that a new federal law will emerge to provide day-care help to American families?
House Democrats have more than enough votes to gain passage of a bill. But if a measure is to become law it will require White House support; Democratic leaders do not have sufficient votes in either the Senate or the House to override a veto.
Senate leaders were unable to gain administration backing for their measure last week. Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater called the Senate-approved measure ``a candidate for a veto.''
At the same time, Washington observers say compromise is possible. Mr. Fitzwater indicated earlier that the President is open to compromise on day care.
Both the White House and congressional leaders have been careful not to take the unyielding approach that led to a presidential veto on a higher minimum wage.
The principal area for day-care compromise appears to be finding a way to blend sufficient tax credits to low-income Americans who use child care, which the White House seeks, with funds that would be paid to low-income parents to subsidize some of their day-care costs, as Democrats want. Democrats also want to require states to set health and safety standards for child-care facilities, which most Republicans oppose. And Democrats seek funds to increase the number of child-care facilities.
The Senate attempted to combine Democratic and White House day-care proposals. The day-care measure it approved would give states some $1.75 billion to be passed on to low-income parents for child care, require states to set standards, and provide approximately $2 billion in tax credits to low-income parents. But it did not gain many Republican votes, or presidential support.