Debate began Tuesday in the US House of Representatives and a vote was expected late today on aid to the Nicaraguan ``contras.'' Three proposals are under consideration: A White House-backed proposal -- already approved by the Senate -- providing $25 million immediately for nonmilitary aid and ``defensive'' weapons, and $75 million for military aid, to be released in stages beginning in July.
A proposal introduced by Reps. Lee H. Hamilton (D) of Indiana and Bill Richardson (D) of New Mexico which eschews any direct aid to the contras, while providing $27 million in aid to Nicaraguan refugees and $2 million to encourage regional peace talks.
The Hamilton-Richardson plan also provides for rapid action by Congress on a presidential request for contra aid after Sept. 1. Congressional observers say it is unlikely that this proposed measure will be passed.
A proposal introduced by Rep. Dave McCurdy (D) of Oklahoma and supported by a number of moderate and conservative Democrats. It would approve the $100 million in contra aid but put conditions on how it could be spent.
The main conditions are a ban on the use of any of the first $30 million for antiaircraft weapons, a mandate for direct negotiations between the Sandinistas and the US in the event of a cease-fire in the region (an idea so far spurned by the Reagan administration), and a hold on the remaining $70 million pending a July 28 vote by Congress on whether or not to release it.