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House Panelists Agree To Raise Social Spending

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Washington--The House appropriations subcommittee that oversees spending on Education Department programs would have $59.3 billion in discretionary funds to divide among labor, health, education, and other human-services programs for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, under a tentative agreement by members of the full Appropriations Committee.

That is a significant boost over the $52.8 billion the subcommittee had to work with last year, and it is about $3.3 billion more than President Bush requested for the programs under its jurisdiction, according to an appropriations aide.

But, the aide said, it is $1.1 billion less than the panel would receive if the Congress followed the budget resolution passed by the House.

Late last week, House and Senate conferees were negotiating a compromise budget resolution that would be sent to the Congress for final approval. The two chambers have passed slightly different resolutions, which are not binding on the appropriators but would act as a blueprint as they allot money to programs.

The House plan recommended a $2.4-billion increase for education programs, and the Senate plan sought a hike of $3.1 billion.

But because House appropriators have begun work on their legislation, the budget resolution may be completed too late to have much influence. According to the rules adopted as part of the 1990 budget agreement between the Bush Administration and the Congress, the appropriations panels can begin marking up their bills May 15, regardless of the status of the budget resolution.

The House bill that includes education allocations will be marked up in a few weeks, a House appropriations aide said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has just begun negotiations on how much money each subcommittee will have to spend.

An aide to Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who chairs the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee, said that matching the House subcommittee's figure would be difficult.

"I think we'll be lucky to get that much," the aide said. "We're trying as hard as we can, but it really does look like the sky is falling."

Last year, the Senate subcommittee had $50.4 billion in discretionary dollars to allocate.--mp

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