The Senate Appropriations Committee, at a meeting July 13, approved the expenditure of $225,000 to help improve the Congressional Cemetery. The funds, authorized by the full Congress last year, were cut from the legislative branch budget by the House Appropriations Committee last month. The full Senate on June 18 approved the bill that includes the cemetery funds. The bill will now go to a House Senate conference committee.
"The House is going to be tough," predicted one Senate staffer. Another Senate source predicted that the conference committee would approve a compromist figure smaller than the $225,000 request.
The disagreement over funding centers on the question of wheather the 170-year-old cemetery at 18th and E Streets SE is a congressional responsibility. Rep. George Shipley (D-Ill.) chairman of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, said that it was not.
"By no stretch of the imagination does this belong in the congressional budget," Shipley said at House hearings on the subject.
Sen. Walter D. Huddleston (D-Ky.) chairman of the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, disagreed. A spokesman for Huddleston said that it was the senator's view that unless some other group takes over the maintenance of the cemetery, it was the responsibility of Congress.
"There are 14 senators and 43 members of the House buried there," said the spokesman. "It is a congressional cemetery."
Shortly before adjournment last fall, Congress authorized the Architect of the Capitol to spend $250,000 over a two-year period "to prevent further deterioration" of sections of the cemetery which are of "historical significance."