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News in Brief: Conferees Set To Approve $1 Billion Education Cut

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House and Senate conferees were set to vote late last week on a spending-rescissions package that a key appropriator said would include $1 billion in cuts to education programs.

Rep. John Edward Porter, R-Ill., and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the chairmen of their respective chambers' appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over education, met late last week in an effort to settle differences over programs under their purview.

The conferees had approved other cuts earlier in the week.

Mr. Porter said he and Mr. Specter agreed on $1 billion in education cuts, including $235 million from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program and significant cuts in Title I and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

The measure would prevent money already appropriated by Congress for this fiscal year from being spent.

The House rescissions bill, HR 1158, called for $1.7 billion in cuts from the Education Department's fiscal 1995 budget. The Senate bill, S 617, would have cut $403 million.

A final version is expected to be considered on the floor of each chamber this week.

Gun-Free Schools: President Clinton last week made good on his promise to try to reinstate a federal law establishing gun-free zones around schools that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down last month.

In its April 26 ruling in U.S. v. Lopez, the High Court said that in enacting the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, Congress overstepped its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

The legislation Mr. Clinton sent to Congress would revise the law--which made it a federal crime to possess a gun within 1,000 feet of a school--in an effort to more clearly link such gun possession to interstate commerce.

The proposal would make it a federal crime to knowingly possess near a school a firearm "that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce." The vast majority of firearms have moved in interstate commerce, Attorney General Janet Reno said in a memo to the President.

Mr. Clinton had criticized the Court's ruling and asked Ms. Reno to suggest ways to reinstate the ban. (See Education Week, 5/10/95.)

Phasing Out Endowments: The House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities approved legislation last week that would phase out the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

HR 1557 would reduce authorization levels for the agencies over a three-year period, eliminating them entirely by fiscal 1999.

The bill was approved by a vote of 19 to 2, with 18 members abstaining. An amendment to eliminate the agencies immediately failed by a vote of 31 to 11, while an amendment to retain current authorization levels failed by a vote of 24 to 19.

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