The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved a one-year suspension of the Federal Trade Commission's authority over doctors, lawyers and members of other state-regulated professions as part of a stop-gap spending bill for the entire government once the new, 1983 fiscal year begins next Friday.
The vote to strip still more power from the already chopped-up consumer agency was 14 to 5. The committee then went on to approve the omnibus funding bill, called a continuing resolution, by voice vote.
In preparation for bargaining with the House over interim spending levels for the next two months, it also approved a $233.4 billion defense appropriations bill and entered that amount for defense in its version of the continuing resolution, which is expected to go to the Senate floor Tuesday.
The Senate committee's defense money bill provides an increase of $28.1 billion over current spending but $12.1 billion less than President Reagan requested.
It preserves language approved earlier in subcommittee ordering the Pentagon to reduce U.S. troop strength in Europe.
The House Appropriations Committee has yet to act on defense spending for fiscal 1983.
The House version of the continuing resolution, adopted Wednesday, would fund the Pentagon at current levels until new funding is approved by the House Appropriations Committee.
In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman voiced strong objections to funding the Pentagon at current levels, as well as other features of the House bill, but said the Senate's defense spending plan "generally achieves" budget targets.
The FTC curb, proposed by Sen. James A. McClure (R-Idaho), will have to be resolved in a House-Senate conference over the continuing resolution because the House has no comparable language in its version.
The Senate Commerce Committee has approved the curb, while its House counterpart has refused to do so. Controversy over the issue may hold up action on the FTC's authorization bill.
In actions against physicians' price-fixing agreements, boycotts of cost-containment programs and restrictions on eyeglass advertising and prescription disclosure, the FTC has run into opposition from powerful groups such as the American Medical Association, which has lobbied for curbing FTC's powers.
While proponents of the curb argue that states already regulate such professionals as doctors and lawyers, opponents contend the regulation is weak and often protectionist toward the professions.
In its action on the defense bill, the Appropriations Committee engaged in a little old-fashioned log-rolling, military-style, as members from two states with defense-contracting facilities tussled over a rocket contract and a funding struggle between proponents of the C5B and C17 aircrafts resulted in money for both.
Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) won out over Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) in getting committee approval for competition for production of the multibillion-dollar multiple launch rocket system, a decision that could result in the rocket's production in Louisiana as well as Arkansas.
The largess was spread more evenly in the case of the two transport aircrafts. First the committee voted to divert money from C17 research and development to the C5B production effort and then voted to restore research money for the C17.