Science, Education Chairmen Propose $400-Million Joint Bill
Washington--The Democratic chairmen of the House science and education committees last week resolved their months-long dispute over which committee should take the lead in boosting mathematics and science education.
They combined provisions of each chairman's favored bill into one measure to be approved jointly.
$250-Million Block Grants
HR 1310, introduced last Tuesday, includes a $250-million block-grants program for teacher-training in school districts and $50-million for higher education--both sought by Representative Carl D. Perkins of Kentucky, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee.
The new bill also includes a $100-million set of fellowship, research, and equipment programs, to be administered by the National Science Foundation--provisions sought by the chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, Representative Don Fuqua of Florida.
In agreeing on the measure, the two chairmen appeared to have ended a jurisdictional dispute that began last fall when the two committees acted separately on science-improvement bills, neither of which reached the House floor.
The education committee's measure would have placed new programs in the Education Department, while the science committee's bill housed the initiatives in the science foundation.
The new measure was quickly approved by the education committee last Tuesday.
"I don't think there's a piece of legislation that we've agonized over as much as this one," said Representa-tive William F. Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania, before the vote was taken.
The chairmen's attempt to secure swift enactment of the new measure--they had announced that a floor vote would occur this week--was stymied last week, however, as Republicans on the science committee accused the two chairmen of "railroading" the measure through the House.
"Why is this thing on such a fast track?" asked Representative Robert S. Walker, Republican of Pennsylvania, at a hearing during which the minority members requested and received a delay on the bill.
Representatives Perkins and Paul Simon, the Illinois Democrat who sits on both committees, denied that the measure was being rushed through the committees. Mr. Perkins pointed out that both committees had worked on similar legislation last year.
"Actually, we've had testimony on math and science off and on since 1958, when we passed the National Defense Education Act," Representative Perkins said.
"This committee is being put into a box on what could be the most important scientific decision the committee will make," Mr. Walker said. "We have 14 new members who would like to have some input into this."
After Representative Walker and others complained that although the education committee had held four days of hearings on the measure, the science committee had not held hearings or had the opportunity to examine the new bill, Mr. Fuqua scheduled a hearing on the measure for today. The committee will vote on the bill on Feb. 22, the committee chairman said.