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Shaving Spending, Conferees Adopt Funding Bill for E.D.

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WASHINGTON--House and Senate conferees last week agreed on a $241 billion social-services spending bill for fiscal 1993 that includes $28.26 billion for the Education Department.

The House had approved a measure calling for $28.93 billion for education programs, compared with $28.46 billion under the Senate's version of the bill. President Bush recommended $29.24 billion in education spending, up from $27.26 billion last year.

The conference committee initially settled on $28.49 billion for the Education Department, but reduced that amount by 0.8 percent in order to meet a spending target for the overall appropriations bill. Labor and health programs were pared by the same percentage.

The conference report accompanying the bill, HR 5677, was expected to reach the floors of both houses by last weekend as lawmakers sought to adjourn by the end of Oct. 5.

Because fiscal 1993 began on Oct. 1, Congress last week approved a continuing resolution that will fund all programs at their fiscal 1992 levels until appropriations bills have been passed and signed by the President.

The President said he would sign the continuing resolution, but ruled out signing a longer-term resolution, jeopardizing appropriations bills that were not passed by Oct. 5.

Noting their tight schedule, conferees made two concessions to the Bush Administration in developing the conference report on HR 5677: They crossed out a provision included in the Senate bill, but not in the House version, that would have allowed federal funding for the abortions of poor women who had become pregnant through rape or incest, and they planned to set the entire bill's price below the President's request.

Mr. Bush threatened to veto the bill if it contained the abortion language or if its grand total exceeded his request.

It was unclear late last week exactly how much money the conference report allotted for education programs because conferees, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Office of Management and Budget were still reviewing some of the committee's actions.

Initial Levels

The conference committee set the following spending levels for selected education programs before slicing off 0.8 percent to meet its spending target for the entire bill:

  • $6.76 billion for compensatory-education programs, of which $6.175 billion would go for Chapter 1 program grants. The overall amount represents a split between the House and the Senate totals; the Chapter 1 amount is $4 million greater than the House's level and $7 million less than the Senate's.
  • $227.5 million for bilingual education, a split between the House and Senate levels.
  • $2.99 billion for special education, $71 million more than under the House bill and $54 million less than the Senate version.
  • $1.486 billion for adult and vocational education, down $23 million from the House level and $6 million from the Senate level.
  • $242 million to cover the fiscal 1992 shortfall for the Pell Grant program, the amount sought by the Senate. The House had recommended $704 million.
  • $5.8 billion for Pell Grants in the new fiscal year, $100 million less than the Senate's recommendation and $267 million less than the House's.
    $2.9 billion for Federal Family Education Loans, formerly known as Guaranteed Student Loans.
  • $74.7 million for educational research, the amount sought by the Senate, and $29.6 million for assessment, the amount sought by the House.

The committee provided no funds for the President's America 2000 school-reform strategy.

Spending levels for education statistics and the Fund for Innovation in Education were unavailable late last week.

Bipartisan Proposal

Also last week, a bipartisan committee assembled by a prominent policy-research organization here called for large education-spending increases over the next decade.

Chaired by Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Sen. Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., the panel organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies unveiled an economic-reform blueprint urging fundamental changes in the federal tax code, spending limits on entitlement programs other than Social Security, and cuts in numerous programs to help eliminate the deficit.

The report also called for the creation of a $160 billion "Endowment for the Future'' to fund education and other programs for children and to spur technological advances.

It singled out Chapter 1, Head Start, childhood immunization, and "intergenerational programs'' for funding increases.

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