The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation yesterday that would restore the effect of four major civil rights laws curtailed by a 1984 Supreme Court decision.
The bill, approved 21 to 12, is similar to one approved Tuesday by the House Education and Labor Committee, with one key exception.
The Judiciary Committee rejected restrictive abortion language, backed by abortion opponents, that was included in the Education and Labor Committee version.
After passage of the bill, House Judiciary Chairman Peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.) said it "will close the loophole opened by the Supreme Court" and "guarantee that taxpayer dollars are not used in any institution that practices discrimination."
The bills were drafted to counteract last year's Supreme Court ruling in Grove City College v. Bell, which affected Title IX of the 1972 education amendments, the federal law that prohibits federally aided educational institutions from discriminating on the basis of sex.
The court ruled that the law applied only to the program within the school or college receiving federal funds, not to the entire institution. The bills approved this week specify that the law should apply to the entire educational institution.
The court's ruling influenced enforcement of three other laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sex, age or handicap in institutions that receive federal funds.
Ralph Neas, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, an umbrella group, said the proposed Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1985 "will prevent the federal government from funding discrimination against minorities, women, disabled persons and senior citizens."
The final vote yesterday was preceded by a debate over federal abortion regulations.
The committee rejected language approved by the Education and Labor Committee repealing a 1975 law requiring universities to offer student and employe health insurance that covers abortions as well as childbirth expenses.
The Judiciary Committee approved an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Don Edwards (D-Calif.), saying the proposed new law is "not intended to convey either the approval or disapproval of Congress" of the regulations.
The committee rejected an amendment that would expand the list of religious institutions exempted from the rights laws even if they receive federal assistance.