House Passes Spending Measure; President Is Expected To Veto It
House Republicans last Thursday succeeded in passing an education spending plan that would provide about the same increase for the Department of Education-- roughly $1.2 billion-- as President Clinton had requested earlier this year.
At press time last week, the Senate was set to consider the GOP bill, which offered a compromise between Senate and House versions of the legislation and contained an across- the-board budget cut of nearly 1 percent. Almost all congressional Democrats oppose the bill.
The House passed the bill by a largely party-line vote of 218-211. Mr. Clinton has vowed to veto the spending plan, citing opposition to some controversial measures within it, including a provision that would allow money he wants earmarked for class-size reduction to be used by school districts for a wide variety of educational purposes.
Meanwhile, the president last Friday was expected to sign a third congressional "continuing resolution" that would keep the government operating at fiscal 1999 spending levels until Nov. 5. The new fiscal year began Oct. 1.
The spending bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education contained $35.03 billion for discretionary education programs, but that figure was reduced by nearly 1 percent because of a Republican-backed across-the-board cut in discretionary spending for all agencies.
Because the bill includes a significant amount of "forward funding," or money that would not be spent until fiscal 2001, the reduction translates into a cut of only about $285 million from the fiscal 2000 education budget. The revised total would be $34.75 billion, slightly higher than President Clinton's $34.71 billion request for fiscal 2000. The Education Department budget for fiscal 1999 was $33.5 billion.
The spending measure was attached to an appropriations bill for the District of Columbia. The full House never approved the Labor-hhs- Education spending bill on its own. Instead, the version approved by the House Appropriations Committee was reconciled with the version passed by the Senate last month.
With the president's promised veto and the expectation that Democrats have enough votes to sustain it, lawmakers presumably will be forced to seek a compromise that both sides can support.
The Republican bill would dramatically alter--critics say abolish--Mr. Clinton's class-size- reduction program. Although the funding formula for how the money is distributed to districts would not change, schools could use the money for a wide variety of educational purposes, instead of solely to reduce class sizes. In addition, the Republican bill would retain funding at about the $1.2 billion level set for 1999, while Mr. Clinton wants to increase the funding by $200 million for the current fiscal year.
Based on an Education Department analysis that includes the .97 percent reduction, the bill would freeze the funding level for grants to school districts under the Title I program for disadvantaged students at about $7.73 billion. Mr. Clinton proposed $7.996 billion for that program. The largest increase in the gop budget plan is nearly $700 million in additional dollars for special education. Funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would climb from $5.33 billion in 1999 to $6.01 billion in 2000.
Vol. 19, Issue 10, Page 24