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Published in Print: July 8, 1998, as Education Block-Grant Bill Approved By House Panel

Education Block-Grant Bill Approved By House Panel

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The House Education and the Workforce Committee has narrowly approved a measure that would consolidate 31 federal education programs and create a new $2.7 billion block grant for states.

The committee passed the proposed Dollars to the Classroom Act by a party-line, 19-18 vote on June 24. The measure was vehemently opposed by Democrats and sets up yet another in a long list of partisan conflicts over education priorities this year.

The bill, HR 3248, would block-grant funding for a range of programs, including Goals 2000 state school reform grants, school-to-work funding, Eisenhower professional-development state grants, and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund.

Democrats blasted HR 3248 as irresponsible before the vote.

"This bill would give states billions of federal dollars without demanding any accountability," said Rep. William L. Clay, the committee's ranking Democrat.

But Rep. Bill Goodling, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the committee, said the bill would cut bureaucracy and send about $9,300 in additional funds to each public school.

All past attempts to block-grant education funding have come from congressional appropriators who, technically, do not have the authority to make such changes. Last month's vote, however, took place in the House committee with authorizing power over federal education policy.

The measure is slated to be voted on late this month or early August. A broader block-grant proposal in the Senate is pending. ("Bill Previews Future Education Policy Battles," April 29, 1998.)

Vol. 17, Issue 42, Page 27

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