Senate Approves Bill Providing $30.6 Billion for E.D.

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WASHINGTON--The Senate last week approved a $204-billion social service spending bill for fiscal 1992 that includes $30.6 billion for Education Department programs.

Education funding in the Senate passed version of HR 2707, the labor, health and human services, and education appropriations bill, was $800 million less than the amount approved by the House this summer.

The measure, cleared by the Senate on a 78-to-22 vote, contained $300 million more for education, however, than did the bill reported earlier by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The increase was due to an amendment, adopted on a 79-to-21 vote, that would allocate some unused budget authority to education programs.

The compromise amendment was offered by Senator Tim Wirth, Democrat of Colorado, and Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa.

Mr. Wirth originally had sought to supplement education allocations with nearly $1 billion in spending authority that had been left over, under the Congress's complex budget rules, after the Appropriations Committee approved HR 2707 in July.

Mr. Wirth was forced to trim the supplement to $577 million, however, after Senator Robert W. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the appropriations panel, transferred $400 million to another subcommittee. (See Education Week, July 31, 1991 .)

The amount for education was whittled to $300 million in subsequent negotiations. "We had other member requests and amendments that we had to take care of," said an aide to Mr. Harkin, who chairs the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee.

Chapter 1 Increased

Under the amendment as approved by the Senate, Chapter 1 spending was increased by $152 million over the committee-reported bill, to $6.42 billion, while Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants rose by $62 million, to $632 million.

The amendment called for increases of $60 million for vocational education, $20 million for the TRIO programs, $4 million for international and foreign-language education, and $2 million for impact-aid construction, as well as $10 million for childhood immunizations.

The amendment provides that the additional budget authority not be effective until Sept. 30, 1992.

Edward R. Kealy, president of the Committee for Education Funding, said the education community is pleased that the Harkin-Wirth amendment passed.

Education programs may receive still more funding as a result of a House-Senate conference, Mr. Kealy noted. The House bill would provide $31.4 billion for education.

"It is still our goal to achieve a final appropriations bill that better fulfills the priority set for education by the House bill and by the Homefront Budget Initiative passed earlier this year," he said. "The Senate amendment was a down payment on moving toward this goal for 1992."

The Homefront Budget Initiative, sponsored in the Senate by Mr. Wirth and in the House by Representative William D. Ford, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Education and Labor Committee, was approved by both houses in their budget resolutions. It calls for education increases of at least $3.1 billion over the 1991 mark of $27.1 billion.

While the House and Senate bills reach that mark, much of the increase comes from accounting changes in the student-loan program.

Before adopting the Harkin-Wirth amendment, the Senate rejected a proposal to transfer $3.15 billion from the defense budget to education and other social-service programs. Sponsored by Mr. Harkin, the amendment would have provided an additional $528 million for education programs and an additional $900 million for Head Start.

But opponents of the amendment, which was defeated by a 69-to-28 vote, charged that it would violate the terms of the 1990 Budget Enforcement Act, which prevents the sharing of funds between the budget's domestic, defense, and international accounts. Several Democrats who voted against the amendment said they agreed with it in principle, but felt bound to honor the budget pact.

In other action on HR 2707, the Senate approved an amendment by Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, to eliminate funds for two controversial national surveys of sexual behavior.

Under the amendment, which was adopted by voice vote, $10 million allocated for separate surveys of teenage and adult sexual behavior would be diverted to a program that promotes abstinence among adolescents.

This summer, Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan decided to ax the teenage-sex study, which would have asked adolescents explicit questions about their sexual experiences. (See Education Week, July 31, 1991.)

The Senate also adopted a compromise amendment by Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, Republican of Kansas, on rules governing rederally funded clinics with separate facilities that perform abortions on women under age 18.

The amendment would spell out a series of conditions, for example parental consent, under which a girl could obtain a federally funded abortion.

The bill as reported by the Appropriations Committee contains a provision, also approved by the House, that would overturn a federal ban on abortion counseling at federally funded family-planning clinics and permit federal funding for abortions for poor women who have been the victims of rape and incest.

Vol. 11, Issue 03, Page 22

Published in Print: September 18, 1991, as Senate Approves Bill Providing $30.6 Billion for E.D.
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