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House Postpones Vote To Allow Transfers to Domestic Spending

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Washington--House Democrats, apparently unsure whether they had enough support, last week postponed a vote on legislation that would permit funds to be transferred among defense, domestic, and international accounts and thus allow more generous funding for education.

A vote on HR 3732 is expected this week, after the House Rules Committee decides what amendments will be offered.

The vote, which had been scheduled for late last week, may have been bumped by a more burning issue--the House's check-kiting scandal.

But Representative Gerald Solomon, Republican of New York, scolded the Democratic leadership for putting off the budget vote.

"The majority is still not sure how it will scrape together the votes to pass this bill,'' Mr. Solomon said.

By inviting amendments, he said, the Democratic leadership is attempting "to buy off enough votes to pass this bill.''

Democratic lawmakers did not respond, but a Democratic aide familiar with the bill said the leadership is counting votes.

Nearly all Republicans are expected to oppose the bill, as are dozens of Democrats. Moreover, President Bush has threatened to veto the measure, which means proponents would ultimately have to muster a two-thirds majority to prevail.

Senators are delaying action on a companion bill until they know the fate of HR 3732, which is sponsored by Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan.

The situation facing the bill indicates that education programs may not receive as much funding in fiscal 1993 as lobbyists would prefer. (See Education Week, Feb. 26, 1992.)

Two weeks ago, the House passed two separate fiscal year 1993 budget resolutions. One recommended funding for domestic programs under current law--the budget caps outlined in the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990--while the other assumed passage of Mr. Conyers' bill.

Under the first scenario, the Budget Committee recommends that education programs receive a $1.7 billion increase over fiscal 1992, the same as Mr. Bush. Under the second, the committee recommends that education programs receive an increase of $3.7 billion.

Mr. Conyers said that "education would be the biggest loser'' if the caps are not dissolved. The spending limits are scheduled to end in fiscal 1994.--M.P.

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