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Bill Would Ease Pell Grant Shortfall, But Trim Summer Jobs

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WASHINGTON--The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved a $1.9 billion supplemental-spending bill that, in comparison with House-passed bills, increases the amount of money to minimize a Pell Grant shortfall, reduces added funding for the summer-youth-jobs program, and restores funding cuts in Education Department programs.

The bill, HR 2118, makes $360 million available to counter the Pell Grant shortfall, which exceeds $2 billion. That is $200 million more than the amount approved by the House.

"We thought any way to lower the Pell Grant shortfall would make it better for education programs'' in the fiscal 1994 budget, explained an aide to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

But the Senate committee also trimmed supplemental funding for the Job Training Partnership Act summer-youth-jobs program to $200 million--$35 million less than the amount approved by the House.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the committee's chairman, said members did not want to put more money into the program because it was already too late in the year for local programs to make effective use of the additional resources.

The summer-jobs figure was lower than the House level because "we had to pay for it, and we didn't want to pay for it with education cuts,'' the aide to Mr. Harkin added.

Education Cuts Rejected

The Senate committee also refused to accept the House's proposal to cut $135.6 million from Education Department programs to help pay for the supplemental spending. Instead, it found spending cuts in other areas.

Senate approval of the bill, which could occur this week, will set up a conference with the House.

An aide to Rep. William H. Natcher, D-Ky., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee, said Mr. Natcher is open to the kinds of changes sought by the Senate panel.

The changes are "something worth serious consideration,'' the aide said.

The Senate bill includes both HR 2118, the fiscal 1993 supplemental-appropriations bill, and certain elements of HR 2244, an $841 million spending bill that President Clinton introduced after Senate Republicans blocked his first economic-stimulus bill.

The Senate committee's version of HR 2118 contains $451 million drawn from HR 2244, including the summer-jobs money. The proposed reductions in fiscal 1993 appropriations for Education Department programs also were part of HR 2244.

The House passed HR 2118 and HR 2244 separately last month. (See Education Week, June 2, 1993.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Natcher's subcommittee last week met in closed session to mark up the fiscal 1994 appropriations bill.

The subcommittee will not release details on the action until the full-committee markup later this month.

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