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House Appropriators Approve Spending Allocations for 1994 Budget

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WASHINGTON--House appropriators decided last week to set aside $67 billion for discretionary programs administered by the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments in the fiscal 1994 spending bill for those agencies.

That amount, while $4 billion more than the amount needed to fund current programs at fiscal 1993 levels, is about $6 billion less than requested by President Clinton, said an aide to Rep. William H. Natcher, D-Ky., who chairs the House Appropriations Committee and its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee.

The full committee last week approved spending allocations for its 13 subcommittees.

The action will force the subcommittee to scale back Mr. Clinton's spending requests, the aide said, including much of the President's so-called "investment package.''

"We're trying to put together a package that reflects the President's priorities with the money that we've got,'' the aide said. "I'm unaware of [any investment program] now that's going to receive the full amount'' asked for by President Clinton.

In his fiscal 1994 request for education, the President proposed the appropriation of millions of dollars for new programs, including:

  • $420 million to support the proposed "goals 2000: educate America act,'' the Administration's education-reform plan. It would aid in developing national education standards and assessments and provide grants to support state and local reform.
  • $270 million for school-to-work transition programs. They are to be run jointly by the Education and Labor departments, which would split the funding evenly.
  • $75 million to help school districts battle crime and violence.
  • $15 million to develop model professional-development programs for teachers.
  • $15 million to help urban and rural areas integrate education with other social and human services.

Mr. Clinton's education-reform bill, which would also create a board to set occupational-skills standards, faces significant obstacles as it moves through the legislative process. (See story, page 22.)

The Administration has not yet introduced legislation to create the school-to-work transition or "safe schools'' programs. The other new initiatives would not require legislation.

House Approves Cuts, Taxes

Mr. Clinton also proposed the elimination, reduction, or consolidation of numerous education programs in an attempt to help fund the initiatives. It remains unclear how those programs will fare in the appropriations process.

Education lobbyists said that although there is a significant increase in the amount of money available this funding cycle in comparison to fiscal 1993, Congress is likely to partially fund the President's new programs and restore some of the cuts he proposed, leaving little room for substantial increases in other programs.

"It really doesn't leave much room for anything,'' said David Baime, the vice president of the Committee for Education Funding and the director of federal relations for the American Association of Community Colleges. "It's a reasonable allocation given the amount of money the committee had, [but] I'm not real optimistic.''

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee is still conducting hearings on fiscal 1994 spending, and Senate appropriators have not yet scheduled meetings to determine discretionary-spending totals for the subcommittees.

Meanwhile, the House last week approved HR 2264, the budget-reconciliation bill that calls for spending cuts and tax increases totaling about $500 billion over five years.

Among the spending cuts is a provision that aims to save $4.3 billion over five years by converting the current student-loan program to one in which the federal government would make loans directly to students. (See related story, this page.)

The House passed the measure by a vote of 219 to 213 after several days of intense lobbying by the Administration.

Before that vote, the House rejected a Republican alternative by a vote of 138 to 295.

A close vote on the budget-reconciliation bill is also expected in the Senate, where Sen. David L. Boren, D-Okla., is leading Democratic resistance to the package because of his objection to a proposed energy tax.

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