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House Agrees To Tack $200 Million to Education Spending Measure for 1984

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Washington--The House last week approved, in a 310-to-101 vote, a fiscal 1984 spending bill for the Education Department that added $200 million to the education-budget figures recommended by the chamber's Appropriations Committee a week earlier.

The new appropriation levels, however, remain substantially below the amount that the Congress agreed to spend on education when it set broad budget targets earlier this year.

According to House aides, members of the chamber were likely to be asked once again to boost spending levels for several education programs when they began deliberations on a temporary, governmentwide spending bill early this week.

The measure, known as a continuing resolution, ensures the continued funding of federal programs for which regular appropriations bills have not been passed. The Education Department has been funded under a series of such measures for the past five years.

The regular appropriations bill, which was cleared by the House on Sept. 22, raises funding for several major education programs, most notably vocational education, aid to the handicapped, and the Chapter 1 program for disadvantaged children.

But it maintains current spending levels for the Chapter 2 education block-grants program and reduces spending for educational research. (See Education Week, Sept. 21, 1983.)

On Sept. 16, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education approved a similar version of the spending bill. That chamber's full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the measure on Sept. 27.

Overall, the House bill sets education spending for fiscal 1984, which begins on Oct. 1, at $12.44 billion. The bill, however, does not appropriate funds for several key programs, such as impact aid and the proposed mathematics-and-science initiative, because the Congress has not passed bills authorizing those expenditures.

If those programs are funded at their current or recommended levels, total spending for the Education Department would be set at roughly $14.5 billion. That amount would fall $800 million short of the department's fiscal 1983 spending level of $15.3 billion. It would also fall $1.6 billion below the $16.1-billion spending mark for education set by the Congress when it passed its first concurrent budget resolution in June.

The Senate measure, which includes funding for impact aid and other programs that remain to be authorized, would set Education Department spending at $15.1 billion in fiscal 1984. That figure represents a $200-million overall reduction from current levels of funding.

Last January, President Reagan sent a budget request to the Congress that earmarked $13.2 billion for education programs.

House Democratic leaders reportedly were upset about the education spending levels that were approved by the chamber's Appropriations Committee, apparently at the behest of Representative William H. Natcher, Democrat of Kentucky and chairman of the panel's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

According to Congressional aides, Representative Natcher had resisted the leaders' requests that he support higher spending levels. Reportedly, he had been told that the Reagan Administration would find the lower appropriations acceptable, thus raising the possibility that the Congress could pass, and the President would sign into law, an appropriations bill for the Education Department for the first time since 1979.

But shortly before the House voted on the appropriations bill, Representative Natcher agreed to support an amendment to it that added $45 million for aid to the handicapped, $4 million for bilingual education, $25 million for Head Start, and a total of $126 million for three higher-education programs to the levels recommended by the Appropriations Committee.

$100 Million for Job Training

The amendment, sponsored by House Majority Leader Jim Wright, Democrat of Texas, also added $100million to the committee-approved spending level for the Job Training Partnership Act program.

Following is a summary of spending levels set under the House and Senate bills:

Aid to Disadvantaged Children. The House and Senate bills would allow $3.48 billion for the Chapter 1 program, up from $3.2 billion in fiscal 1983. The Administration requested $3.01 billion for the program.

Block Grants. The Chapter 2 program would be kept at its current level of funding--$450 million--by both chambers. The Administration requested the same amount as well.

Vocational Education. This program would receive $735 million under the House bill and $731 million under the Senate bill. The program's current level of funding is $728.6 million. The Administration proposed combining adult and vocational education into new block grants to states with funding of $500million.

Adult Education. The House and Senate bills set funding for this program at $100 million, up from $95 million in fiscal 1983.

Impact Aid. Under the Senate bill, funding for this program would increase from $495.2 million in fiscal 1983 to $540 million in the upcoming fiscal year. The House did not appropriate funds for impact aid because the program had not yet been authorized when it approved its spending measure. The Congress has yet to act on a Defense Department measure that would allow $565 million for the program in fiscal 1984. The Administration's request for impact aid was $465 million.

Bilingual Education. The House bill would set spending for this program at $142 million, or $4 million above its current level of funding. The Senate panel approved a somewhat lower level--$138.9 million. The Administration requested $94.5 million.

Education of the Handicapped. Currently, this program receives $1.19 billion. The House bill sets spending at $1.195 billion, and the Senate bill earmarks $1.24 billion. The Administration's request was $1.11 billion.

Educational Research. The National Institute of Education now receives $55 million annually. That level would drop to $48.2 million under the House bill, and to $40 million under the Senate bill. The Administration requested $48.2 million for the institute.

In other action last week, the House approved by a vote of 246-to-178 a public-works bill that would provide schools and colleges with up to $700 million next year for repairs and renovations.

Under the measure, HR 1036, 75 percent of that amount would be set aside for elementary and secondary schools. The remainder is earmarked for postsecondary institutions.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it likely to meet strong opposition, according to Congressional observers.

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