Congressional leaders yesterday scrambled to revive an urgent stopgap funding resolution for the government that was sinking fast under the weight of amendments ranging from a war powers challenge of President Reagan to a ban on oil and gas leasing in wildlife refuges.
Late yesterday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.) and Rep. Silvio O. Conte (R-Mass.), the committee's ranking Republican, reportedly were drafting a stripped-down bill that would scuttle most of the amendments tacked onto the measure in a committee session Wednesday.
Sources said the new bill might go directly to the House Rules Committee, bypassing those on the Appropriations Committee who had added the previous amendments, including spending add-ons for members' pet projects. Thus, it could be brought to the House floor in a fashion that discouraged most of the "ornaments" festooning the earlier version.
As originally drafted, the "continuing resolution" would have provided a 45-day extension of existing spending authority, under a relatively simple formula, for agencies still awaiting passage of appropriations bills when the new 1984 fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
But, by the time that House Appropriations Committee members finished adding their pet projects, the measure was so encumbered that a senior member, Rep. Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.), warned wearily that it was "going nowhere."
Congress is under the gun to pass the bill promptly because agencies covered by appropriations bills that have not been passed by Oct. 1--presumably about half the government--will run out of funding authority at midnight Sept. 30 and face at least technical shutdowns until stopgap financing is approved.
Only four of the 13 regular appropriations bills have been approved and signed into law, although at least two others are expected to be approved by Oct. 1. The four provide financing for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, Congress and affiliated offices and many independent agencies.
Among the additions approved by the Appropriations Committee was extra money for foreign aid, including $64.8 million of the $86.3 million that the administration requested for military assistance to El Salvador.
The committee also approved $425 million more than the administration requested for military and related economic aid to Israel, bringing the total up to authorization levels currently under consideration in Congress. Egypt would receive $65 million more than the administration requested.
Among the more controversial domestic add-ons was a rider that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from implementing a proposal to allow the three major television networks to control syndication rights of rerun network shows.
Another would continue the moratorium on issuance of performance standards for federal workers by the Office of Personnel Management.
Chicago would get $20 million to help fund court-ordered school desegregation; Reagan vetoed an earlier Chicago aid measure on a legal point that proponents of the proposal say has been resolved.
And Los Angeles would get $50 million to help finance security forces for the 1984 Olympic Games.
The committee restored money that had been lopped off a state, justice and commerce appropriations bill, but did so in a way that leaves financing of the Federal Trade Commission in doubt unless the FTC's authorization bill is passed by Oct. 1.