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Congress: Back to the Cutting Board

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Washington--The House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees completed preliminary work last week on a 1982 education spending bill that would slash an additional $1.8 billion from the $15.7-billion federal education budget.

This action occurred at the same time that the full Senate Appropriations Committee finished its work on the "continuing resolution," which both the House and Senate must pass before Oct. 1 to keep federal programs funded though the start of fiscal 1982.

The continuing resolution passed in the House earlier this month; it was scheduled to go to the Senate floor on last Thursday. The measure is a temporary "stopgap" bill that would grant federal agencies the authority to continue funding for programs until appropriation bills are passed sometime in October.

The House and Senate versions of the education-appropriation bill both include cuts in most major education programs over and above those enacted Aug. 13 in the budget "reconciliation" bill. The Senate bill provides $13.98 billion for education, the House version, $13.94 billion.

After the measures are passed separately by each chamber, those differences are expected to be worked out in a joint conference next month.

Even with the additional cuts, the appropriation bill is not expected to escape the veto of President Reagan. Mr. Reagan has said he will refuse to sign any appropriation bill that is larger than his March budget request, which set education spending at $13.1 billion.

In addition, he is expected to seek further cuts from that level, because of larger-than-expected projections for the federal deficit next year. Administration sources last week said Mr. Reagan now wants to fund 1982 education programs at $11.5 billion. (See story on page 1).

Should Mr. Reagan veto the bill, Congress could override that action with a two-thirds vote in both Houses. But observers consider that action unlikely.

A Senate staff member predicted that one of two other Congressional actions might follow a Presidential veto: Congress could pass a revised appropriation bill that contains compromise funding levels. Or Congress could extend the continuing resolution until next year, which would permit the President to propose a "supplemental appropriations and recisions" measure, containing his budget reductions, next spring.--E.W.

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