President Carter's draft registration plan is snagged over whether the Senate would agree to transfer money from one government department to another to finance the step.
Before asking the House to vote on the politically explosive issue, the White House has decided to assess prospects in the Senate.
The immediate question, congressional sources said, is whether transferring $13.30 million in fiscal 1980 funds from the Pentagon to the Selective Service agency would survive a point of order on the Senate floor. The $13.3 million would be used to register 19- and 20-year-old males, not females, under Carter's revised plan.
Chairman Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.) of the House Appropriations Committee stands ready to start such a money transfer bill through the House but apparently wants some assurance the Senate would go along.
Hubert L. Harris Jr., White House Congressional lobbyist, recently asked the Senate Budget Committee whether the transfer legislation, if passed by the House, would win Senate approval. The Senate parliamentarian seeks guidance from the Senate Budget Committee on such questions.
Rather than talk about a theoretical resolution, the Senate Budget Committee has asked the White House to submit the text of the measure transferring the $13.3 million. As of yesterday, the text had not been submitted.
Carter originally requested $2 million to register this year men and women born in 1960 and 1961. The House Armed Services Committee refused to authorize female registration. Carter is settling for male-only registration. But his request for supplemental fiscal 1980 funds for registration has bumped up against the congressional budget ceiling, forcing the administration to resort to the transfer route.