President Carter's request for $13 million to register men for the draft ran into another delay in the House Appropriations Committee yesterday.
Earlier this month, a subcommittee refused to appropriate the money on a tie vote. Then house leaders regrouped and set to work to win approval in the full committee to show support for this part of Carter's response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But before the full committee could act, the congressional Budget comlmittees reported that projected spending for this year would break through the budget ceiling. No more new spending can be approved until the spending ceiling is increased, and that won't happen until after the Easter recess.
So committee leaders came up with the idea of transferring already appropriated funds from some other military account to the draft registration program. The committee scheduled a meeting yesterday to approve it, but canceled the meeting just before it was to begin.
Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie Whitten (D-Miss.) told him there was a growing feeling in the committee that authorizing spending by transfer was a bad precedent, that there would be several more requests coming along if this were approved and that they should pull back and think it over some more.
The committee may also have been made nervous by the close vote by which a transfer of funds to keep the Federal Trade Commission alive squeaked through the day before.
An administration official on hand for the meeting was distressed by the delay. The administration fears each day's delay gives more time for opposition to registration to grow. It had carefully cleared the way for the transfer through the Senate, and now it was derailed again in the House.
Registration of women, which Carter has also proposed, is unaffected. It would require separate authorizing legislation.