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House, Senate Approve Spending Plans for 1990

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Washington--The House and Senate approved 1990 budget guidelines last week that would increase funding for the spending category that includes education, but by differing amounts.

The House version of H. Con. Res. 106 would provide $41.9 billion for "Function 500," the budget category that includes education, training, and social-services programs. The Senate version would provide $40.7 billion.

Despite an amendment that decreased the Function 500 total by $50 million, the House bill allots almost $1.1 billion more for discretionary programs in the category than the Senate bill.

Differences in the bills will be ironed out by a conference committee, and appropriations committees will then use the final budget resolution as a guide in allotting funds to specific programs.

Both budget plans adhere to the broad budget agreement between the White House and Congressional leaders, which limits overall domestic discretionary spending to $157.5 billion.

The House last Thursday approved its resolution by a vote of 263 to 157, after adopting by voice vote an amendment that added funds for veterans' services by cutting most other domestic-spending categories by small amounts. The amendment cut $50 million from the $42.025 billion allotted to Function 500 in the resolution passed by the House Budget Committee. (See Education Week, May 3, 1989.)

The House rejected several other amendments, including one that would have frozen all spending at 1989 levels, which was defeated on a 393-to-30 vote, and two that called for increases in educaton spending.

A proposal by the Congressional Black Caucus would have increased spending on social programs, including education, by $41 billion. It would have done so by cutting defense spending and increasing tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers. The proposal was defeated on a vote of 343 to 81.

An amendment offered by Representative Richard A. Gephardt, Democrat of Missouri, also called for increased spending on an array of domestic programs, including Head Start and drug education, to be paid for primarily through an oil-import tax. The proposal was defeated on a vote of 373-49.

The Senate approved its budget measure on a 68-to-31 vote, without altering the amount its budget panel had allotted to Function 500.

Senators adopted some amendments that shifted small amounts from each category to pay for in8creased spending on certain programs, but a budget aide said the amounts are too small to change the "bottom line" of any category.

The Senate rejected many amendments, including a proposal to freeze all spending at 1989 levels.

A proposal by Senator Paul Simon, Democrat of Illinois, which would have moved $3 billion from the defense budget to Function 500, was defeated on a vote of 64 to 31. Mr. Simon's amendment included language stating that the money was intended solely for educationel10lprograms. It would have violated the budget agreement between the White House and the Congress, which set a division between defense and domestic spending.

Legislators on both budget committees said they intended for most of the increased funding in Function 500 to go to education programs and to a child-care initiative that is expected to be enacted this year. But the budget resolution does not bind the appropriations committees, which decide how much to earmark for specific programs.

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