The House Judiciary Committee yesterday restored $30 million cut by one of its subcommittees from a bill to help implement reforms in the United States Olympic movement through the reorganization of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The money, equivalent to the amount in the Senate-passed version of the bill, was approved on a voice vote after another measure to delete it failed on an 18-13 votes.
F. Don Miller, executive director of the USOC, said after yesterday's session, "We're very appreciative of the support. Hopefully, the bill can be expeditiously enacted so all amateur sports can benefit."
Committee Chairman Peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.) said that once the committee passes the entire bill - expected Tuesday after another amendment is considered - he would ask Speaker of the House Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) to allow a rules-suspension vote by the House.
Under such a procedure - a quicker way to get the bill to the floor because of the lateness of the session - approval must come from two-thirds of the members present and voting.
"I belive there is substantial and widespread interest in this bill," Bodino said. "I've talked to Mr. O'Neill and he feels this is a matter that would have such support, generally, and that it reflects the sentiments of the country, the interests of the American people."
The bill had several rough moments during the abbreviated sessions yesterday and Wednesday as members questioned the propriety of federal money for amateur sports and expressed scepticism that the $30 million grant really would be a one-time request, as the USOC has promised.
Some members said they also wanted a more detailed outline of how the money would be spent in the quadrennium after the 1980 Olympics.
"This is one more move by Uncle Sam, Big Brother, to stick his long arm into what has been a private effort," said Rep. John F. Seiberling (D-Ohio).
The USOC is trying to raise $26 million for this Olympic quadrennium, ending with the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The $30 million is for the reorganization and completely separate from the Games budget.
The $30 million includes $18 million for the reorganization of the USOC, the core of which involves the creation of national governing bodies for Olympic and Pan Am sports to develop broad-based programs for the average American as well as the superior athlete.
The other $12 million would go to the operation of permanent training facilities and the development of research and sports medicine programs which, again, would be of use to all segments of the population.
Arguing that the money is crucial to the successful execution of the USOC reorganization, Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeier (D-Wis.), said, "We've given them (the USOC) the body. Now we've also got to give them the life blood."
It was Kasternmeier's amendment to restore the $30 million that passed yesterday.Ironically, and for parliamentary reasons, it was introduced by Rep. Thomas N. Kindness (R-Ohio), an opponent of the grant, after his move to kill the money was defeated.
Kindness said that if the money were to be restored, he preferred the language of the Kastenmeier amendment to that in the Senate bill.
Kastenmeier, strongly supported by Reps. Robert McClory (R-Ill.) and Tom Railsback (R-Ill.) repeatedly emphasised spinoff benefits of the bill for the handicapped and women. They also noted that the way the reorganization is structured, the territorial fights among sports organizations could be resolved.
"The amateur athletic community has waited a very long time for reconcilation and for the provision of leadership within the international sports community," said Kastenmeier. "This should elevate the chances of American athletes and give some coherence to the system."
The Committee meets again Tuesday to consider an amendment from Rep. Jim Santini (D-Nev.) to include an athletes' bill of rights in the legislation. Such a rights bill was included in the USOC constitution, but was deleted from the legislation to assure the National Collegiate Athletic Association's return as a member of the USOC.