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Senate Inches Toward Approval Of $23.7-Billion Spending Plan

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The Senate appeared poised late last week to approve a $23.7-billion education budget for fiscal 1990.

In a late session last Thursday, the full Senate worked on a $155.5-billion spending measure for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education that had been approved this month by the Appropriations Committee. (See Education Week, Sept. 20, 1989.)

Final action on the measure was expected as early as Friday afternoon.

Education lobbyists expressed confidence that the education funding in the bill would survive floor action relatively intact.

A Congressional aide said final action on several appropriations bills had been stalled by wrangling over financing for anti-drug programs, which could take money from education programs.

The funding measure would increase education expenditures by $1 billion over the 1989 level. It calls for $102 million less than requested by the Bush Administration, and $118 million less than the House version.

Among the education-related amendments approved by the full Senate during last week's debate was a measure offered by Senator Pete Wilson, Republican of California, to strike language that would have cut off federal impact aid to school districts that enroll relatively small numbers of federally connected students.

The amendment allows districts whose impact aid equals less than 1 percent of their total budget to continue receiving funding.

Senator Wilson estimated that 1,700 of the 2,600 school districts nationwide eligible for impact aid would have lost their funding if the measure had passed as approved by the subcommittee.

Also approved unanimously was an amendment offered by Senator Alan Cranston, Democrat of California, mandating that aids-education programs must include information designed "to reduce exposure to and transmission of" the disease.

Senator Cranston's amendment, which was offered to counter an amendment expected to be offered by Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, also requires aids-education programs to provide information on the health risks of promiscuous sexual activity and intravenous drug abuse.

The Senate was also set to vote late last week on a spending bill that includes funding for asbestos abatement in schools and the National Science Foundation.

It would provide $200 million for the nsf's precollegiate-education programs, $10 million less than the companion House bill. But the Senate bill would provide more for the asbestos-abatement grant program, calling for $52 million while the House included $47.5 million.--pw

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