A federal judge ordered the Administration on Friday to release $5.3 billion in 1986 federal aid to cities, saying the "deferral" process President Reagan used to withhold the money is no longer valid.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Jackson ruled in favor of four congressmen; the cities of New Haven, Conn., and Chicago, and the National League of Cities, which filed suit in February against Reagan's decision to withhold housing and urban development funds.
"I know I speak for mayors across the nation in saying I am delighted with the decision," said New Haven Mayor Biagio DiLieto. "We cannot afford the capricious withdrawal of important federal funding."
Jackson, however, said his decision would not take effect until the Administration has exhausted all its appeals.
Robert Nipp, a spokesman for the Housing and Urban Development Department, declined to say whether the decision would be appealed.
Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the lawmakers who filed the suit, said the decision would end the "guerrilla warfare tactics" used by the Administration to block spending it found objectionable.
The decision could affect about $22.9 billion in deferred spending or lending in 41 different federal programs during the rest of fiscal 1986, which ends Sept. 30.
Deferrals would affect programs such as housing subsidies for the poor, loans to build low-cost rental housing, grants to local communities for urban renewal and public works, sales of military equipment to other nations, housing for military families and aid for crime victims.
Reagan has angered many lawmakers by proposing deferrals that effectively wipe out appropriations already passed by Congress and signed into law.