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Senate Passes $13.5 Billion Education Measure

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Washington--The Republican-controlled Senate overwhelmingly approved a fiscal 1984 appropriations bill for the Education Department last week after rejecting an amendment that would have added $559 million for a variety of education programs.

The amendment, sponsored by two Democratic senators, Bill Bradley of New Jersey and Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina, and one Republican, Senator Robert T. Stafford of Vermont, would have provided an additional $350 million for the Chapter 1 program for disadvantaged children; $102 million for vocational and adult education; $7 million for educational research; and $100 million for several higher-education programs. The Senate voted 50 to 45 to table the amendment. The chamber also rejected, 58 to 35, a motion by Senator Walter D. Huddleston, Democrat of Kentucky, to add $50 million to the bill to provide school districts with interest-free loans for asbestos removal. (See story on Page 1.)

On Sept. 22, the House passed a version of the spending bill that would provide the Education Department with $12.4 billion in fiscal 1984. That bill, however, did not include appropriations for impact aid, rehabilitation services, or the proposed mathematics-and-science initiative because those expenditures had not been officially authorized when the bill was voted on. (See Education Week, Sept. 28, 1983.)

The Senate version, which would provide the department with $13.5 billion in fiscal 1984, included the impact-aid and rehabilitation-services appropriations.

The department received $13.7 billion in fiscal 1983, which ended on Sept. 30. The Reagan Administration asked the Congress last winter to set education spending at $13.2 billion in the current fiscal year.

House and Senate conferees were expected to start meeting late last week to iron out the differences between their versions of the spending bill. Congressional observers predicted that final passage of the measure could occur shortly after Oct. 17, when the Congress returns here following a week-long recess that began on Columbus Day.

At present, the department is being funded under a temporary spending measure that was passed by the House and Senate on Sept. 30 and signed into law by President Reagan a day later. That bill, known as a continuing resolution, expires on Nov. 10.

The Senate's rejection of the amendment by Senators Bradley, Hollings, and Stafford marked the latest setback for education lobbyists, who have been pressing the Representatives and Senators to support increased education spending. Similar attempts to increase spending were also rebuffed by the House.

"Education has been the means in our society for at least the past 50 years, if not longer, for moving up the ladder of success," said Senator Bradley in support of the amendment. "It's time to put some meat back on the bones."

But Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr., Republican of Connecticut and chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education, countered that by adding the money, the Senate would have ensured a Presidential veto of the measure.

The Congress has been unable to pass a regular education spending measure for the past five years.

"My job is to deliver, not to talk about, assistance to the retarded, to the disabled and disadvantaged, and the young kids going to college," Senator Weicker said. "I have to deliver. I have not delivered and our colleagues have not delivered on this matter in this chamber for five years. That is what is at issue here, not whether or not a particular senator is committed to education."

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