The balanced 1981 federal budget faced strong opposition Thursday from liberal congressional Democrats, angry over its tilt toward military spending at the expense of social programs. House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. said a mass defection of the majority liberals could jeopardize final House passage next Thursday.
The compromise $613.3 billion budget was approved Wednesday, after week-long negotiations, by a joint House and Senate committee resolving differing bills passed earlier. The negotiators leaned heavily toward the Senate figure of $155 .7 billion for defense. They approved $153.3 billion, compared with $147.9 billion in the House version. Under the compromise, defense spending would be nearly $18 billion over current levels, and more than President Carter's latest request for $150.5 billion.
To keep the budget balanced, in line with the President's anti-inflation plans, the committee stopped, slowed, or deferred many programs, such as grants to states, unemployment training projects, and Saturday postal deliveries.