House, Rejecting President's Budget, Urges Funds Increase for Education
Washington--The House of Representatives rejected President Reagan's budget last week, in a 229-196 vote on a resolution that recommends increased spending for education and other domestic programs, tax increases, and cuts in the proposed increases for national defense.
The preliminary vote set the stage for an increased federal education budget. Although the measure does not have the force of law, it permits the appropriations committees--which determine final spending figures--to increase spending for education from the current $15.1 billion to $16.3 billion.
The measure also recommends increases for the Head Start program and child-nutrition programs.
The action, on a budget resolution setting broad spending targets for the fiscal year 1984, came shortly before the President appeared on national television to ask viewers to "tell your Senators and Congressmen that you know we must continue to restore our military strength."
The party-line vote is viewed as significant because the House leadership, during the past two fiscal years, was unable to advance a budget of its own. Instead, "alternative" budgets, offered by Republican lawmakers and supported by the Administration, were approved.
This year, Republicans offered no alternative budget, at the request of the President. Mr. Reagan has emphasized the need for "bipartisanship" in crafting the budget this year, and observers said they expect him to concentrate on influencing Senate action. The differences between the Senate and House budgets would be worked out later.
Thirty-six House Democrats voted against the budget plan last week, while four Republicans voted in favor of it.
The House vote was immediately hailed by education lobbyists. "We're pleased; we were treated very fairly," said Dena G. Stoner, vice president of the Committee for Education Funding, an umbrella group representing a number of educational organizations.
But she cautioned that convincing the Republican-controlled Senate to add extra money for education programs to its budget plan, a process that will begin next week, "will be like shooting the rapids."
Among the increases that the House budget would permit for education programs are: Chapter 1 program for disadvantaged children, from $3.1 billion to $3.8 billion; block grants, from $535 million to $606 million; mathematics and science education--a new program--$295 million; education of the handicapped, from $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion; vocational and adult education, from $824 million to $939 million; bilingual education, from $138 million to $140 million; impact aid, from $480 million to $505 million; and Indian education, from $331 million to $375 million.
In addition, the Head Start program would receive a funding increase, from the current $912 million to $990 million.
Drop in Interest Rates
The budget for higher-education programs would decrease, but the cut is due to a drop in interest rates for the Guaranteed Student Loan program rather than to program reductions. The budget would fall from $7.3 billion to $7.2 billion.
In other budget action, the House and Senate were unable by mid-week to reach final agreement on a $4.6-billion bill to stimulate economic recovery through creating federal jobs and development projects in the current fiscal year, 1983.
A conference committee, made up of members of both houses, did agree to numerous education-related provisions. Those included: $60 million for impact-aid projects; $50 million for public libraries; $40 million for removing architectural barriers to the handicapped in schools; $50 million for the college work-study program; and $50 million for energy-conservation projects, for which schools are eligible.