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Further Spending Deferrals Sought, Lawmaker Says

March 12, 1986|BOB SECTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration, already under fire in Congress for withholding more than $22.8 billion in domestic spending authorized by lawmakers, has sought an additional $4 billion in similar spending deferrals, California Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Sacramento) said Tuesday.

Fazio was one of several members of the House Appropriations Committee who complained to another House panel that Reagan had abused a law allowing him to delay spending appropriated funds and is using the law, in effect, to kill programs without congressional approval.

"It appears very close to being used as a line-item veto," charged Fazio, head of the House Appropriations subcommittee on legislative affairs, in testimony before the Government Operations Committee.

Hearing Convened

Democratic and Republican leaders of the latter panel had convened a hearing to explore ways to prevent the White House from thwarting legislative spending priorities by using its power to defer spending.

Under a 1974 law designed to prevent presidents from flatly impounding funds approved for spending by Congress, Reagan has the power to order spending deferrals when he determines that the money could be more efficiently spent later. Until 1983, either house of Congress had the power to block a deferral.

However, a U.S. Supreme Court decision that year threw out that congressional veto mechanism, requiring Congress, in effect, to pass new legislation mandating the spending if it disagreed with a President's action. Such legislation was still subject to a potential presidential veto.

Lawmakers' Complaints

Despite the ruling, Reagan refrained from large-scale deferrals until recently. However, lawmakers have complained that in recent months the President has vastly accelerated the pace of deferral requests and has done so in a manner designed to eliminate the spending for good rather than delay it.

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