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Status of Federal Legislation

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Education Appropriations, Fiscal 1996

HR 2127

Provisions: House version would provide $23.2 billion for Department of Education programs, a $3.6 billion cut from fiscal 1995. Senate version would provide $24.7 billion. The bill also funds programs in the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, including Head Start. (See Education Week, Oct. 4, 1995.)

Status: House bill passed Aug. 3. Senate bill is stalled, primarily due to legislative riders. The leadership lacks enough votes to head off a filibuster.

Next: Senate floor vote, followed by House-Senate conference.

Budget Reconciliation, Welfare Reform

HR 2491

Provisions: Massive bill proposed welfare reforms and changes in entitlement programs that would cut spending. Bill would cut subsidies for student loans and school meals, limit the direct-lending program, tighten eligibility rules for the Supplemental Security Income program for disabled children, consolidate child-care programs into a block grant, and deny some federal benefits to certain immigrants. (See Education Week, Dec.13, 1995.)

Status: Senate approved Nov. 17, House on Nov. 20. President Clinton vetoed the bill Dec. 6.

Next: Provisions of the reconciliation bill are on the table in ongoing budget negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.

Welfare Reform

HR 4

Provisions: Bill includes welfare-reform provisions nearly identical to those in HR 2491, which would end guaranteed coverage and turn welfare and Medicaid funding over to the states in block grants. It also carries some provisions that were stripped from that bill under Senate rules, including some language designed to combat illegitimacy. It also includes a compromise, agreed to after HR 2491 was vetoed, that would allow seven states to run their school-meals programs under block grants. (See Education Week, Jan. 10, 1996.)

Status: House approved Dec. 22, the Senate Dec. 23. President Clinton vetoed the bill Jan. 9.

Next: Some welfare provisions may become part of a budget plan if Congress and the president can agree on one.

Stopgap Spending Authority

P.L. 104-99 (HR 2880)

Provisions: Law keeps the Education Department and other agencies whose fiscal 1996 appropriations bills have been stalled or vetoed running through March 15 at reduced funding levels. It also raised the maximum Pell Grant and eliminated funding for six small education programs. (See Education Week, Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, 1996.)

Status: President Clinton signed the bill Jan. 26.

Next: If Congress and the White House fail to agree on a long-term budget plan, lawmakers are expected to approve another continuing resolution, and may even approve a "temporary" spending bill that covers the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. President Clinton has vowed to veto the next stopgap bill if it does not raise education funding levels.

D.C. Appropriations, Fiscal 1996

HR 2546, S 1244

Provisions: Bill would set aside $5 million for "scholarships" to help low-income District of Columbia students pay tuition at the public or private school of their choice, or would pay for after-school remedial and enrichment programs. The City Council would have the final say on how the money was spent. The bill would also mandate a package of school reforms, including charter schools and a standards-setting process, and create an oversight panel superseding much of the local school board's authority. (See Education Week, Feb. 7, 1996.)

Status: After a long deadlock over the voucher issue, House passed the compromise bill 211-201 on Feb. 1.

Next: Senate Democrats are expected to oppose the bill when it is brought to the floor for a vote, and President Clinton has said he would veto it, if it reaches his desk.

Goals 2000

S 1301

Provisions: An effort to satisfy critics of the Clinton education-reform program, the bill would remove requirements that participating states submit reform plans to federal officials, allow districts to apply directly for grants if their states do not participate, and formally eliminate the National Educational Standards and Improvement Council. (See Education Week, Nov. 1, 1995.)

Status: Legislation was introduced on Oct. 10.

Next: Its sponsor will likely attach the Goals 2000 provisions to the 1996 education appropriations bill or another piece of legislation.

Immigration

HR 2202, S 1394

Provisions: Both the House and Senate bills aim to reduce illegal and legal immigration; House bill would also restrict immigrants' eligibility for some federal benefits. (See Education Week, Sept. 20, 1995.)

Status: House Judiciary Committee approved HR 2202 on Oct. 24; Senate subcommittee cleared S 1394 on Nov. 29.

Next: Floor action in the House, committee action in the Senate.

Lobbying Restrictions

HR 2564, S 1060

Provisions: Provisions that would cut off federal grants to nonprofit groups that lobby the government, including education groups, were removed from an appropriations bill and a lobbying-reform bill passed by the House in November. (See Education Week, Oct. 11, 1995.)

Next: The provision remains part of a House appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and its sponsor is likely to propose it as an amendment to other legislation in the future.

Parental Rights

HR 1271, HR 1946, S 984

Provisions: HR 1271 would require federal agencies to obtain parental approval before administering certain surveys to students. HR 1946 and S 984 would bar government and school officials from interfering with "the upbringing of a child" unless a "compelling governmental interest" is involved. (See Education Week, May 24, 1995.)

Status: HR 1271 was approved by the House on April 4. Last fall, hearings were held in the House on HR 1946 and in the Senate on the broader topic of parental-rights issues.

Next: More House and Senate hearings are expected.

Religious Liberty HJ Res 121, HJ Res 127

Provisions: Both bills would amend the U.S. Constitution in an effort to provide greater protection for religious expression. HJ Res 127 would specifically protect student-sponsored prayer in public schools. (See Education Week, Nov. 29, 1995.)

Status: HJ Res 121 was introduced Nov. 15 and HJ Res 127 on Nov. 28.

Next: The House Judiciary Committee plans to debate the proposed amendments later in the year.

Special Education

Provisions: House and Senate aides have circulated draft legislation that would make it easier for school officials to reassign or expel disruptive disabled students, encourage mediation, require schools to set high standards for disabled students, and consolidate some programs. (See Education Week, Nov. 29, 1995.)

Next: Legislation to reauthorize the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act could be introduced as soon as this month.

Telecommunications, School Technology

S 652

Provisions: New law guarantees schools access to telecommunications at low rates. Also includes provisions that aim to limit children's on-line access to indecent material and a mandate that new television sets be equipped with chips that can block shows objectionable to parents. (See Education Week, Feb. 7, 1996.)

Status: After resolving a series of disputes on regulatory issues, bill passed the House 414-16 and the Senate 91-5 on Feb.1. President Clinton signed the bill last week.

Vocational Education

HR 1617, S 143

Provisions: House bill would replace more than 100 vocational-education, adult-education, and job-training programs with block grants for youth programs, adult literacy, and adult job training. Senate bill would create a single block grant, replacing about 90 programs. (See Education Week, Oct. 18, 1995, and Jan. 31, 1996.)

Status: House bill passed Sept. 19, Senate bill passed Oct. 11.

Next: A House-Senate conference has been held up by differences over the programs' structure and the ongoing budget battle that has dominated the congressional schedule.

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