The House slogged through more than seven hours of debate yesterday, but kept its record for the week perfect - adjourning for another day without passing a major bill.
The center of yesterday's quarrelsome confusion and verbosity was a $10.60 billion appropriation for the Department of Energy, water-resources projects and some independent agencies.
During one passage, the chamber grappled trhough three hours of debate and three different votes to find itself back where it started - with the same language the Appropriations Committee was proposing.
Yesterday's haranguing brought the week's total to 38 hours of debate without passage of legislation of consequence, putting the House far behind schedule.
Earlier in the week, a legislative appropirations bill that included pay raises for members of Congress was defeated and a measure to create a department of education was abandoned after hopeless disagreement.
Although work on the energy-water bill, the traditional "pork barrel" spending measure, was not completed, it produced some uncustomarily heated floor exchanges.
When Rep. Robert W. Edgar (D-pa.) proposed cutting $9.1 million for the Stonewall Jackson dam project in West Virginia, he was attacked bitterly by Rep. Harley O. Staggers (D-W.Va.) and Peensylvania Democrats.
Staggers, in whose district the Army Corps of Engineers' $117 million dam would be built, complained that "when a minister from Philadelphia [Edgar] is trying to legislate in my district, it is not right."
Staggers' remarks were cheered by others on the floor who joined in the general tone of the debate - that the individual member knows best what his district needs without advice from outsiders.
Edgar said afterward that feelings were so intense that Staggers had privately threatened to campaign against him next year in Pennsylvania.
I've also been under a lot of pressure within the Pennsylvania delegation," Edgar said. "they were incensed that I would offer the amendment."
A leader of the ambush on Edgar was Rep. Joseph Gaydos, a Pittsburgh-area Democrat, who suggested that without the Stonewall Jackson dam the Monongahela River valley would be enveloped in economic ruin.
Edgar had argued that the project would not provide the flood control and water quality protection claimed by the corps, while it would inundate substantial coal reserves and displace farmers.
Seven simple words in the committee's report, banning use of public money for public advocacy intervenors in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceedings, set of a more-prolonged floor fight.
The committee's action - in effect overruling last year's National Energy Act, which authorized reimbursement of intervenors - set off a concerted consumer-labor lobbying effort that was shot down in flames.
Rep. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) offered an amendment that would derect FERC to make available $600,000 for public interest intervenors.
Dodd's amendment unleashed the same torrent of antiregulatory, produce-more-energy feeling that has dominated House debates this year.
One member after another stood during the three-hour set-to, denouncing Dodd's proposal as a subsidy to "professional harassers" of the utility firms that FERC oversees on rate matters.
"you are talking about financing a no-growth lobby," complained Rep. Steve Symus (R-Idaho) during one angry exchange with Dodd and Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.).
By a 257-to-156 vote, the House accepted a substitute amendment by Rep. James P. Johnson (R-Colo.), requiring that intervenors would have to give their federal assistance to utilities that won FERC decisions.
Then Dodd's amendment, with the Johnson proviso riding piggyback, was rejected with a roaring voice vote, which left the matter where it began - no money for intervenors at FERC.