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The number of infants and toddlers living in poverty increased by 26 percent over the last decade, making that group the poorest segment of the population, according to a new General Accounting Office report.

The report says that in some cities and rural areas, more than 45 percent of all infants and toddlers live in poverty.

It also notes that large numbers of poor and "near poor'' young children have parents who are not native English-speakers, are unmarried, do not work, and do not have a high school diploma.

The study was ordered by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., to help bolster support for extending Head Start to younger children.

Single copies of "Infants and Toddlers: Dramatic Increases in Numbers Living in Poverty'' (GAO/HEHS-94-74), are free, and additional copies are $2 each from the General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, Md. 20884-6015.

Budget Cuts: Members of the Senate Budget Committee were left scrambling last week when the panel's ranking Republican said he would not back a provision calling for additional spending cuts that was included in the Senate version of the fiscal 1995 budget resolution.

The budget blueprint passed by the House contains no such proposal, and a House-Senate conference on the budget resolution, which started last week, centers around that difference.

Senators were busy last week counting votes to see if the budget blueprint could pass on the Senate floor without the spending-cut language, which would lower existing spending caps for discretionary programs by $43 billion in budget authority over the next five years.

Some aides estimated that Republicans would have to provide eight to 10 votes to offset Democrats who favor the idea.

Senate Budget Committee members, including the panel's ranking Republican, Sen. Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, voted last month to include the provision in their version of the budget bill for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

But Mr. Domenici said he changed his mind because such cuts would harm defense programs.

Earlier this month, the House narrowly defeated a measure that would have instructed that chamber's conferees to agree to the Senate language.

School-to-Work Transition: The House and Senate last week passed the final version of HR 2884, the "school-to-work opportunities act.'' The Clinton Administration initiative is expected to be signed into law this week.

The House approved the bill by a vote of 339 to 79, and the Senate passed it by a voice vote.

The bill would authorize $300 million a year to help states and localities create high-skill training systems for young people. In a House-Senate conference, lawmakers agreed to give priority to programs that include paid work-based learning. (See Education Week, April 20, 1994.)

Rehabilitation Nominee: President Clinton last week nominated Frederic K. Schroeder, the director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind and the president of the International Council of English Braille, to be the commissioner of the rehabilitative-services administration.

The R.S.A., which is a division of the Education Department's office of special education and rehabilitative services, funds state efforts to assist people with disabilities in finding employment and living independently and to train rehabilitation professionals.

The Senate must approve the nomination.

Malcom Confirmed: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Shirley Malcom, the education director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for a seat on the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation.

Ms. Malcom's appointment is significant because it comes as lawmakers are pressing the White House to increase the representation of women and minority members on science-policy boards. Ms. Malcom will be one of two women on the 26-member N.S.F. board.

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