House Panel To Consider Anti-Busing Bill

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The leadership of the House of Representatives has agreed to take up the anti-busing bill that recently passed the Senate.

An aide to Representative Peter W. Rodino Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, confirmed last week that Mr. Rodino intended to ask that the bill be forwarded to his committee for consideration. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over such legislation.

The aide said, however, that the bill's future in the committee was uncertain. Representative Rodino intends to ask the Justice Department to issue an opinion on its constitutionality, the spokesman added.

The anti-busing provisions, which were attached to a Senate bill authorizing funds for the Justice Department in fiscal 1982, would prevent federal courts from ordering the busing of students beyond a short distance from a "neighborhood" school; would prohibit the Justice Department from seeking busing orders; and would allow the department to ask courts to dismantle existing busing plans.

Two weeks ago, both Representative Rodino and House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. had said they would try to stall House action on the measure.

Mr. Rodino apparently decided to ask for committee consideration of the bill after a conversation last week with Senator J. Bennett Johnston, the Louisiana Republican who sponsored the provision limiting the authority of the federal courts to issue busing orders.

In recounting that conversation, Senator Johnston said, that Mr. Rodino "said the fact that the Senate had repeatedly stopped a filibuster against the bill and finally approved it put an obligation on the House to proceed with the bill."

The filibuster to which Senator Johnston was referring was led by Senator Lowell P. Weicker, Republican of Connecticut.

Senator Johnston had met with Representatives Rodino and O'Neill earlier in the week to determine whether the House leaders would be willing to permit a House vote on the controversial bill.

Representative O'Neill also has promised to permit House action on the bill. "There is no question in my mind that the legislation eventually will be on the floor," he said at a news conference.

He warned that the bill could emerge from the Judiciary Committee in a different form from that passed by the Senate. "Judiciary, no doubt, will make some changes on their own," he said.--E.W.

Vol. 01, Issue 25

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