Congress' legislative committees are supposed to deal with policy issues and appropriation committees with money. But sometimes the appropriators try to write policy into their money bills and then they can expect a loud protest from the authorizing committes that their turf has been violated.
That happened last week when the House Appropriations Committee, drafting a bill containing supplemental appropriations for unbudgeted expenses this year and recisions to cut spending, added language revising procedures of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to speed issuance of licenses for new nuclear power plants. That was legislation on an appropriation bill and as such a violation of House rules.
Yesterday the Appropriations Committee asked the Rules Committee for a resolution protecting the bill against various points of order, including one against the nuclear provision.
But chairmen of legislative committees with jurisdiction in teh field vigorously opposed the request. Energy and Commerce Chairman John D. Dingell (D.-Mich.) said the appropriations language was poorly drafted, would cause more delay throught litigation and that his and other authorizing committees were moving legislation to deal with the issue.
The Rules Committee sided with Dingell on this issue, which meant that a single objection on the House floor could strike the language from the bill when it is taken up next week.
Rather than face that, the Appropriations Committee went back into session and struck the language itself. The committee also struck out $500 million of more than $12 billion it had originally voted in defense supplementals to avoid any possiblity that the money bill would breach the new 1981 spending ceiling contained in the budget resolutions adopted by the House yesterday.