The Senate overrode White House objections and voted 44 to 38 yesterday to block further implementation of President Carter's amnesty program for Vietnam-era draft evaders.
The vote locked into the $7.7 billion appropriation bill for the State, Justice and Commerce departments a House-passed "rider" cutting off funds as of Oct. 1 for carrying out the amnesty program. The vote involved only the program for draft resisters, not military deserters.
Use of the "rider" - a little extra policy provision hooked onto an appropriations bill - is becoming increasingly common. It also figured prominently on the $67 billion housing and independent agencies bill yesterday, in connection with military deserters and housing for homosexuals.
And riders to the big Labor-Health, Education and Welfare measure are expected to provide most of the excitement in the Senate next week.
HEW opposes a House rider barring the use of ratios and other numerical targets in so-called-affirmative action programs to end discrimination in colleges, hospitals and other institutions receiving federal funds.
It also dislikes a Senate Appropriations Committee rider that bans "pairing" and "clustering" as part of HEW school desegregation plans if busing is involved.
And HEW Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr. indicated at a meeting with reporters yesterday that he wants a tougher ban on federal funding of abortions than the rider approved by the Appropriations Committee.
The Senate vote on pardons yesterday came when Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) moved to strike from the State-Justice money measure House language cutting out funds for the amnesty program.
Hatfield said the fund cutoff invaded the President's constitutional right to grant pardons to young men who fled the country or faced jail rather than allow themselves to be drafted for what "most of them considered to be an immoral war in Vietnam."
Bob Dole (R-Kan), leading the opposition to Hatfield's move, said, "We never had a chance to express ourselves before on the pardon," and Hatfield's move failed on the 44 to 38 tally.
The aim of the fund cutoff is to keep federal employees from processing dismissals of draft-evasion charges and from acting to end investigations of alleged evation. The provision also seeks to bar U.S. entry for draft evaders who fled abroad and renounced their citizenship or are presently barred from reentry for some other reason.
Justice Department officials said the amendment might have less practical effect than intended. They said virtually all investigations and all 2,393 draft-evasion indictments have been dropped. Moreover, it could be argued that it doesn't cost anything to drop an investigation or an indictment and therefore the fund cutoff on these two tems was meaningless.
However, the ban on spending any 200 draft evaders who fled abroad might have impact. The department said about 283 have returned, and the rider might bar the return of the rest.
As for the 9,042 other persons already convicted of Selective Service violations, the department said the provision as written didn't seem to ban processing of their applications for certificates of pardon. Only 95 so for have written for certificates.
During the debate on the housing independent offices bill, which contains veterans' benefits, Dole offered but then withdrew a rider barring all such benefits to about 173,000 Vietnam-era veterans who had received undesirable discharges but were eligible to have their discharges upgraded under a special presidential program.
The house had passed a similar amendment, but the Senate Appropriations Committee dropped it. Dole withdrew his proposal after Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) assured him there would be separate legislation spelling out the conditions and limits under which veterans with upgraded discharges might become eligible for some benefits.
The housing money bill also carried a rider rescinding a recent government regulation that had been interpreted as permitting homosexual couples to live as a family in federally subsidized housing. The House has a differently worded rider to the same effect.
Bitter fights are expected in the Senate next week over three riders to the Labor-HEW money bill, including the one baring HEW from requiring schools, hospitals, social services programs and other HEW aided institutions to adopt any "ratio, quota and other numerical requirement related to race, creed, color, national origin or sex," in employment and admissions policies.
The rider was approved by the House but deleted by the Senate Appropriations Committee; an effort may be made on the floor to restore it.