The House defeated yesterday a bill containing a $30 million authorization for the reorganization of the U.S. Olympic Committee and accompanying reforms in the nation's amateur sports system.
The vote on the bill was 244-158 in favor, with one abstention - 24 votes short of the required two-thirds approval of the members present for passage under the rules-suspension procedure.
Rep. Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.), a strong supporter of the bill, said that proponents will take the bill to the Rules Committee, the ordinary legislative procedure, then seek another House vote when only a simple majority is needed for passage.
A spokesman for House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill (D-Mass.) said O'Neill is "very strongly in favor of the bill." He added that Peter W. Rodino (D-N.J.). House Judiciary Committee chairman, is expected to seek a ruling from the Rules Committee next week and another vote may be taken late next week. Rodino could not be reached.
The complexion of the bill could be altered substantially if the Rules Committee decides amendments may be offered. The $30 million grant that the USOC has said would be a one-time request - to the skepticism of some members - could be reduced, for example.
In Colorado Springs, F. Don Miller, USOC executive director, said, "We're very, very disappointed. In our judgment, a great disservice has been done to the amateur athletes of the nation.
"But we're pleased to see that a substantial number of the members did vote on behalf of the bill and we hope the Rules Committee will act upon it and bring it back on the floor as expeditiously as possible."
The vote came after many members objected to the suspension of the rules, which prohibits amendments and limit debate. There was considerable opposition to the $30 million to be used for the actual USOC reorganization and the establishment of training centers and sports medicine programs.
Rep. Thomas N. Kindness (R-Ohio), who said he favored many aspects of the bill, led the opposition against the money.
"The proponents like to call it 'seed money,'" he continued. "But the seeds are seeds that will grow into the rank weeds of bureaucracy, choking out ambitions of countless future athletes and spoiling the garden of freedom to compete."
The USOC has said that $18 million of the one-time-request money would be used as "seed money" to help organize and develop national governing bodies in the Olympic and Pan-American sports.
Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeier (D-Wis.), a staunch supporter, said the bill was intended to end the fighting among amateur sports organizations that has hampered U.S. athletes for almost 50 years.
"This will do nothing but improve the situation," Kastenmeier said. "It is a positive step forward and one athletes and coaches have been dreaming of for years.
Rep. Ralph H. Metcalfe (D-Ill.), an Olympic gold medal winner in 1936, also stressed the peace that the bill could bring to the amateur sports community and that the bill opened up more sports opportunities for women, the handicapped and minorities.
The bill's advocates also emphasized that the USOC has insisted that the money will be a one-time request and that the financing does not constitute federal intrusion into amateur sports. s-cap-ad4 hearg - nichlson
The bill establishes the USOC as the central coordinating agency for amateur coordinating agency for amateur sports as they relate to international competition. As such, the USOC is charged with the responsibility for developing broad-based programs for both exceptional and average athletes.