The Senate Appropriations Committee met yesterday intending to vote on funds for draft registration but, after an hour of highly critical debate, quit without action for lack of a quorum.
President Carter's request for $13.3 million to register 19- and 20-year-old men to speed up mobilization in a crisis has had trouble all the way through Congress, in good part because the administration had opposed it until Carter decided after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that registration would be a good way to show America's "resolve" to the world.
Sens. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), William Proxmire (D-Wis.) and others made all the familiar arguments against it: registration without classification and training means nothing. It would be only an empty gesture, and so understood by Soviet officials, but it might lull America in to a flase sense of security. Mobile youth would soon make the lists out of date. Noncompliance would mean either thousands of felony prosecutions or exposure of the exercise as a sham. Registration does nothing to solve the military's main manpower problem, which is the loss of highly trained specialists.
Only Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, argued strongly for registration.
When the committee adjourned, it had pending a Hatfield amendment to cut the $13.3 million back to $4.7 million. This would permit preparations now for registration when the president orders mobilization. The committee may meet again today.