The House swiftly approved an intelligence bill yesterday that provides none of the $28 million in military aid President Reagan requested for Nicaraguan rebels next year, but would significantly ease a ban on Central Intelligence Agency involvement with the insurgents.
No debate preceded the voice-vote approval of the fiscal 1986 intelligence authorization, largely because the question of aiding the Nicaraguan rebels appears to have been settled, at least temporarily, by the House vote last month to give the contras $27 million in "humanitarian" aid this year.
That aid was attached to a supplemental spending bill for the rest of this fiscal year. Conferees are scheduled to meet shortly to work out differences between House and Senate versions of the supplemental measure.
The intelligence bill approved yesterday would not ban "humanitarian" aid. But it would prohibit agencies involved in intelligence, including the CIA, Defense and State departments, from using their funds to provide, directly or indirectly, material assistance to the "democratic resistance" fighting Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government.
The CIA would be allowed to exchange intelligence information with the counterrevolutionaries and give them advice.
In the past, this legislation has included a flat ban on CIA involvement with military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua and did not refer to the contras as the "democratic resistance."
The change in the ban, called the Boland amendment after its sponsor, former Intelligence Committee chairman Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.), was written by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Conservative Republicans had pressed in committee for the change but several said yesterday they hope to strip the ban altogether when the legislation is sent to conference with the Senate. The Senate has not yet adopted its version of the intelligence measure.
Liberals were also unhappy with the change in the Boland amendment, saying it created a loophole for renewed CIA involvement with the contras. However, they did not challenge it yesterday because House sentiment clearly has shifted in favor of the contras in the last few months; it was possible that reopening the issue would kill the Boland language entirely.
Most other portions of the bill are classified, including its total price tag and the activities authorized in it.
Intelligence sources said the bill authorized spending in the range of $25 billion, representing an increase of 7 or 8 percent over last year. In the past, the panel has provided increases of around 25 percent, sources said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.) said yesterday that the committee made a "substantial" cut in Reagan's request, the largest it has ever made. He said the percentage reduction was similar to the 6.2 percent cut the House Armed Services Committee made in Reagan's defense request.
In unclassified sections, the bill provided $15.2 million for the FBI's counterterrorism program, an increase of $700,000 over this year, and required the CIA to report to Congress within 120 days on the vulnerability of confidential government activities abroad and on efforts by foreign powers to detect or monitor such activities.