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No Haste on the Hill

THE DRAFT

By Robert O. Boorstin

President Carter learned another lesson in high school civics this week when he discovered that no matter how loud he yells for draft registration, he still needs permission from the guys in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill.

When Carter originally requested that Congress allocate the funds necessary to register 19- and 20-year-old males, most analysts on the Hill said the vote would be awfully close. Now, however, those same observers are wondering out loud whether the issue will reach the floor of the House before school lets out for the summer.

When Carter first suggested revving up the registration machinery, a lot of people also wondered whether the program should include women.

The House Subcommittee on Personnel of the Armed Services Committee sent Carter a frank "no" this week, tabling a measure to register women by an overwhelming 8-1 measure. Although the issue--the subject of extensive hearings before the panel--still technically remains alive and kicking, subcommittee staffers said this week that it's as good as dead.

But Congress is still actively dealing with the question of whether to register men. It was, at least, until government agencies turned in their estimated budget requests for the fiscal year and the House Appropriations Committee discovered new requests would break the bank.

While the bureaucrats went back to their ledger books to rewrite their requests, members of the Appropriations Committee sat on their hands. Until the budget ceiling issue is resolved, Carter's request for about $14 million to register men will sit on a Congressional shelf.

Committee members are expected to drag the proposal off the shelf next week, and send a recommendation to the full House. But most analysts hesitate to say whether the committee (rumored to stand 23 to 20 against with 11 undecided) will approve the measure--or whether Carter will have to go back to the drawing board.

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