A bill that would authorize an additional $36.6 million federal payment to the financially squeezed District of Columbia government was pulled off the House calendar yesterday after Rep. Stanford E. Parris (R-Va.), angry over city plans to dump sewage sludge in his congressional district, threatened to block its passage on a procedural technicality.
The inaction left the fate of the District's 1982 budget in at least temporary doubt, since the D.C. City Council is expected to vote today on a supplemental spending plan including money for city employe pay raises and overdue payments into the city pension fund. Those expenditures cannot legally be accepted by Congress unless the law-makers first agree to increase the federal payment.
The Senate already has approved the federal payment increase from the present limit of $300 million to the proposed $336.6 million. The House District Committee approved the same bill by a unanimous voice vote on May 6. Parris, a member of the District Committe, said he was prepared yesterday to block House consideration of the measure on grounds that a required quorum of seven committee members was not present when the vote was taken.
Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, removed the measure from the House agenda yesterday after a brief conversation with Parris at the front row of the House chamber. Dellums could not be reached for comment, but Edward C. Sylvester Jr., the committee's staff director, said the action was taken "rather than get into a hassle over . . . a very technical point."
Sylvester said the minutes of the May 6 meeting showed that four members, three short of a quorum, were present when the session began, and "we believe" there was a quorum later that was not reflected by the minutes. Sylvester said Dellums was attempting to schedule another meeting to act again on the measure.
Parris said he wanted to block the increased payment to force city action on what he called a realistic plan for disposal of sewage sludge from the Blue Plains treatment plant. Unless such a plan is adopted, Parris said he fears the city may dump sludge at the Lorton landfill in southeastern Fairfax County, located in his district.