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House Approves $500-Million Funding Increase for Education

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Washington--House Republicans, backed by a rebellious group of freshman Democrats, last week narrowly rejected a measure that would have boosted fiscal 1984 education spending by about $550 million.

The 203-to-206 vote was on final passage of a second continuing resolution, a temporary spending bill to provide funds for federal agencies not covered under regular appropriations measures.

The Education Department was guaranteed $15.22 billion in fiscal 1984 under an appropriations bill signed into law by President Reagan on Oct. 31. (See Education Week, Nov. 2, 1983.) Education lobbyists have pressured the House leadership to increase that amount, and the leaders responded by offering the extra education funds in the form of an amendment to the continuing resolution.

Congressional aides said the defeat of the measure on Nov. 8 was partly the result of growing concern over a projected $200-billion federal deficit and the threat of a Presidential veto.

But, they added, the defeat was also the result of a Republican-orchestrated maneuver that allowed House members to cast symbolic votes in favor of increased education funding.

The Republican strategy, conceived by Representative Robert S. Walker of Pennsylvania, consisted of a requirement that separate votes be taken on each line item in the House leadership's amendment. Most of those votes were won by lopsided margins. It was after these votes were taken that the House voted to defeat the entire measure.

Before the line-item votes were asked for, the chamber had voted 254-155 in favor of the education-funding amendment, which was sponsored by Majority Leader Jim Wright of Texas.

The Representatives also defeated 244-166 a motion by Representative Silvio O. Conte, Republican of Massachusetts and ranking minority member of the chamber's Appropriations Committee, to send the entire continuing resolution back to his committee for reconsideration.

Representative Wright's amendment, in part, would have provided an additional $165 million for the Chapter 1 program for disadvantaged children; $81.4 million for vocational education; $143 million for the education of the handicapped; $12 million for adult education; and $150 million for a new program to assist school districts enrolling a disproportionate amount of legal- and illegal-alien children.

After the defeat, House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. of Massachusetts announced that the House Appropriations Committee would bring a "stripped down" version of the bill to the floor for consideration prior to Nov. 10, the expiration date of an earlier continuing resolution. Passage of the new bill by both the House and Senate was widely expected before the Veteran's Day holiday.--tm

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