The University of the District of Columbia's decision to spend $1.6 million on a controversial artwork was panned again yesterday on Capitol Hill, as the Senate Appropriations Committee scolded UDC officials for "actions {that} do not represent adequate stewardship of university resources."

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) urged his fellow committee members not to set aside any public funds for the "The Dinner Party," a ceramic and embroidery work by feminist artist Judy Chicago.

Unlike the House of Representatives, which slashed $1.6 million from the UDC budget Thursday in retaliation for the proposed expenditure, the Senate panel took no punitive financial action against the university.

Instead, committee members ordered that UDC trustees report to them every three months on their institution's precarious financial condition.

Still, UDC's plan to renovate its Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square NW to display "The Dinner Party" had no defenders on the Senate committee.

Byrd was adamant that taxpayers not pay any bills relating to the artwork, which details the history of women and includes sexual imagery. "Anybody can call that censorship if they want, but that's one senator's opinion," Byrd said.

At the urging of Sen. Brock Adams (D-Wash.), chairman of the D.C. appropriations subcommittee, the committee added language to the proposed D.C. budget that questions whether UDC trustees are mismanaging the school.

"The committee does not want to interject itself into the decision-making process of the university," the language says. "However, it is concerned about the priorities of the board of trustees."

Noting that UDC has recently dismissed its president and has been accused of delaying paychecks to its employees, the committee said, "These actions do not represent adequate stewardship of university resources."

Nira Hardon Long, chairman of UDC's Board of Trustees, said yesterday she is "mystified" by much of the criticism surrounding the artwork, but said the board may rethink its decision to display the work when it meets in September.

"We can't afford to have an idea we think is great hurt the rest of our budget," she said. "No one wants to fall on a sword and damage the university's budget. I hope in the end, home rule and proper wisdom and judgment will prevail. And hopefully, educational principles will play some part in it too."

The mounting controversy around "The Dinner Party" foreshadows a much larger battle over federal funding for the arts, which is expected to peak when Congress considers the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts this fall. Many conservatives say the NEA has supported art that they consider pornographic or obscene, and want to eliminate the agency.

In the House Thursday, some of the NEA's most vocal detractors also weighed in against the UDC expenditure.

The debate arose as the Appropriations Committee approved the District's proposed $3.5 billion annual operating budget and sent it to the full Senate, which has not yet scheduled debate on it.

Already, however, several differences have emerged with the budget version approved by the full House Thursday.

Along with the additional $1.6 million for UDC, the Senate panel rejected an $11 million cut in disecretionary funds that the House approved to help balance the federal budget.

But the Senate cut $100,000 that the House wants to provide for an environmental study of the District's Lorton landfill in Fairfax County. The District is planning to expand the landfill, but is being bitterly opposed by residents near the site.

The environmental study was proposed by Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.), who represents the Lorton area and who opposes expansion of the landfill.

Both the House and Senate versions of the budget include $12 million to pay for new recycling and trash-burning facilities in the District, plants that would slow growth at the Lorton landfill.