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Senate Rejects Shift of Funds From Defense Budget

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WASHINGTON--The Senate last week rejected two amendments to an education spending bill that would have allowed a transfer of funds from defense to domestic programs.

The votes came during action on HR 5677, the $245 billion social-services spending bill for fiscal 1993.

The bill, which covers spending for labor, health, and education programs, includes $28.5 billion for education programs, a 3.4 percent increase over fiscal 1992.

Senators did not take a final vote on the measure, and debate was expected to continue late last week or this week.

Once the measure is passed, it will go to conference with the House, which approved its version of HR 5677 in July. The House included $28.9 billion for education programs. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

Fiscal 1993 begins next week, and it is questionable whether the bill will emerge from a conference and gain final passage by then. If it and other appropriations bills do not, Congress has to pass a continuing resolution providing stopgap funding.

Avoiding a Veto

It appeared that the action last week helped steer the Senate away from a confrontation with President Bush. Mr. Bush has pledged to veto the bill if it provides for a shift in defense funds.

Without debate, the bill's Democratic sponsors also dropped a provision repealing the so-called abortion "gag rule,'' which had provoked a veto threat as well.

And last week, Congressional leaders said they would not fight the Administration over Mr. Bush's vow to veto spending bills that exceed the total he proposed in January.

The House bill comes in almost $400 million below the President's proposal, while the Senate bill as approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee exceeds the proposal by about $600 million.

The first transfer amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, would have brought an additional $1.35 billion into the Education Department.

Mr. Harkin's amendment was rejected on a 62-to-36 vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who is the subcommittee's ranking member, the other amendment would have transferred $2.9 billion from defense to the Pell Grant program. The shift would have provided for a maximum grant of $2,800 annually, instead of the $2,300 included in the bill.

The Specter amendment went down by a similar margin, 67 to 30.

In other action, the Senate passed several education-related amendments by voice vote.

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