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Senate Approves Symbolic Measure Against Busing

The Senate, in a largely symbolic gesture, recently voted to prohibit the U.S. Justice Department from taking "any sort of action" requiring the busing of students to schools other than those nearest their homes.

By a 29-to-52 vote, the senators failed to table the measure, which was offered on Oct. 20 as an amendment to the fiscal 1984 Justice Department appropriation bill by Senator Jesse A. Helms, Republican of North Carolina.

After the vote, Senator Helms withdrew his amendment, claiming that he had "made his point."

"I just wanted a vote," Mr. Helms told his colleagues.

"I want the Justice Department to know that the Senate has spoken again on the question of forced busing, and it has displayed a strong majority will against it. That is the only point I wanted to make and I have made it."

Senator Helms' amendment was identical to one he offered during the 97th Congress to a Justice Department authorization bill. The Senate approved the amended bill in March 1982, but it was never acted on by the House.

"The last time this amendment passed, it was sent over to the House and [House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative Peter W. Rodino Jr., Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of that chamber's Judiciary Committee] arranged for it to be sat upon," Senator Helms said. "If you will look at the posteriors of those two men, you will realize that when they sit on something, that is a lot of coverage."

After the tabling motion failed, Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr., Republican of Connecticut, noted that "this is the same Senate that voted for Martin Luther King Day and two days later went ahead and gutted, or tried to gut, the civil rights of black schoolchildren."

"This particular exercise does not stand to the credit of this body and repudiates what we did 48 hours ago," Senator Weicker said.

House Approves Nutrition Funds

The House last week approved a bill that would restore $100 million to the child-nutrition programs whose funding was cut by $1.5 billion in 1981.

The bill, HR 4091, would lower the cost of reduced-price lunches from 40 cents to 25 cents and would raise the level of family income below which children are eligible for reduced-price meals. The measure also increases the level at which the government reimburses schools that participate in the meal programs.

The bill now faces a Senate vote and the Administration; officials reportedly have indicated that President Reagan would not sign the bill as it was approved by the House.

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