Wait for Reagan has Congress, capital churning
Washington churns in political transition. Sooner or later, the results affect the whole country. * For seven days the Washington Star hs published the "plum list," the spoils system of 4,000 to 5,000 patronage jobs that President-elect Ronald Reagan will fill, together with the names of present unfortunate occupants.
* Washington real estate offices are booming, with incredible prices being asked for local housing.
* Republicans prepare to take over the Senate for the first time in a quarter-century. Congressional committee chairmen of both parties play musical chairs. With deep interest Washington notes that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts has relinquished the top Democratic place on the Judiciary Committee for an activist role on the Labor and Human Resources Committee. Telltale hints speak of political battles ahead.
* Powerful lobby and interest groups realign themselves. Trade unionists find a principal past opponent, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R) of Utah, facing them as the new chairman of the Labor Committee, probably pitted against Mr. Kennedy.
* Blacked Americans suddenly find themselves no longer at the center of a New Deal governing coalition but conspicuous outsiders at the GOP victory parade.
While national attention turns to selection of President-elect Reagan's forthcoming Cabinet, the lame-duck 96th Congress here grinds out final bills: the Alaska environmental measure passes and the House sends the Senate the proposed presidential authorization to negotiate restriction on Japanese auto imports.
The banking industry shows acute interest in the chairmanships of the respective Senate and House banking committees in the new Congress. Earlier this year, Congress passed banking deregulation under which the public may soon open interest-bearing checking accounts and find new competition between thrift and commercial institutions.
Senate Republicans made Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee the forthcoming majority leader, a powerful role in handling Reagan legislation. Republicans have 16 of the Senate's 18 new members and take control Jan. 5. From 59-to-41 Democratic, the Senate majority becomes 53-to-47 Republican. Mr. Baker is considered a moderate -- among other things he supported the Carter Panama Canal treaties.
Observers noted the Senate Republicans' elevation of conservative James McClure of Idaho to be head of the Republican Conference (caucus of all GOP senators). He defeated moderate John Heinz of Pennsylvania. The terms "conservative" and "moderate," while not definable, indicate a possible line of division in the successful new GOP coalition.
Washington asks why Kennedy, still considered a presidential possibility, gave up his ranking party status on the Judiciary Committee. He is for re-election in 1982.
"The economic and social issues with which the Labor Committee deals," a Kennedy spokesman declared, "were the basis of his effort this year for the presidency and of his own personal interests." The spokesman says that it doesn't mean a new presidential drive.