Change, it seems, never comes easy to the House. Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), who is looking for a way to limit the amount House members spend on their "franked" mail, is having a problem getting support for his latest plan, according to congressional sources.

The House, unlike the Senate, has neither disclosure requirements nor dollar limits on how much its members can spend on the frank -- the Capitol Hill privilege of sending mail with a signature in place of postage. The costs of House mailings have steadily grown, particularly during election years, leading critics to charge that the material is used for campaign purposes rather than official business.

This year, for example, the cost of House mailings may top the record $77 million spent in 1988, the last election year.

Last week, Fazio floated a proposal that would require House members to disclose their use of the frank and give each member a pool of funds every year for mailings based on the number of households in his or her district and the cost of three first-class mailings to them, sources said.

If every member used the full amount allocated, it could cost about the same as the $77 million record set two years ago, according to one calculation.

Fazio, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch, said in an interview that he was exploring a change in how the frank is used because "the status quo is no longer easily sustained." His subcommittee plans to meet this week to take up the matter.

The ideas he put forward to some of his colleagues, Fazio said, were designed to "show the dilemmas we would face . . . what change would be like." He pointed out that under any new limits, "Some members will be restrained and some not feel it at all."

"There are problems treating everyone alike," Fazio said. Some House members are heavy mail users because they have trouble reaching their constituents through the news media. Their mail, he said, "relates to their districts and not {campaign} abuses."

And, he added, "We're not talking about tremendous savings," noting that the Postal Service is expected to increase the cost of first-class and third-class mail next year.

Fazio also faces a couple of short-term problems. He must help win approval of next year's $59 million appropriation for House mail and help get Congress to vote funds to pay off an accumulating deficit for mailings in this election year -- an amount the Postal Service has estimated could reach $38 million.

Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) and other House Democratic leaders decided that some changes in franking arrangements were needed after the House earlier this year voted down a Fazio move to use already appropriated funds to begin paying off the current mail deficit.

One strong voice against Fazio's proposal was Rep. William D. Ford (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee and a member of the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards.

"Ford went bananas," said one House member, who asked not to be identified. "He thinks any inhibition is a violation of a member's rights. Billy {Ford} believes they should be allowed to do what they want."

Ford had no comment, a spokesman said.

Fazio acknowledged that some members who heard his proposals "were more adamant about staying with the present."

Noted one congressional source, Fazio "sure has his hands full dealing with people who don't want any changes."

Rep. Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.), a critic of current franking practices, said he would introduce amendments to the legislative appropriations bill when it reaches the House floor to cut funds for official mail if Fazio's panel fails to approve limits.

During a recent debate on franking, Frenzel said some House members were mailing so-called town meeting notices as often as once a month or more to keep their names before constituents. He refused to name those members.

Fazio's suggested allocation system is similar to one being put forward this year on the Senate side of the Capitol. The Senate Rules Committee has proposed that each senator be given a mail allotment next year equal to the cost of one mailing to each household in his or her home state. The total cost is estimated at about $31 million, Senate sources said, an amount that would increase by almost 50 percent the funds available for Senate mailings in the current year.

Some senators who have been leading the fight to limit congressional franking costs, such as Don Nickles (R-Okla.), are expected to try to cut that amount, according to sources.

With opposition to change on both sides of the Capitol, Fazio said, "I'm still not sure what we will do."