Congress was set to return to Washington this week for a lame-duck session to address the still-unfinished fiscal 2001 budget for the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services. But with last week’s divided election results, the fate of an agreement to provide the largest-ever increase in the Department of Education’s budget was unclear.
The department’s budget would increase by 22 percent—bringing the total above $43 billion—should GOP leaders stick with a tentative spending plan that was hammered out last month. At the 11th hour, the plan was rejected by House Republican leaders over language in it unrelated to education.
At the time, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was quoted as saying Republicans would not seek to undercut the agreement on education spending. But with the outcome of the presidential race still undetermined as of late last week, what’s next for the spending bill was a big question mark.
“I think it’s going to add an additional note of confusion about how they’re going to proceed,” said Edward R. Kealy, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding. The CEF is a broad-based coalition that advocates increased federal spending on education. Mr. Kealy expressed concern that congressional leaders might rethink the large spending increase, or put the matter off for the next Congress to decide.
But a GOP aide to the House Appropriations Committee who did not want to be named said putting off the budget until the 107th Congress would be a mistake. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re finished with the bill,” the aide said.
—Erik W. Robelen
A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2000 edition of Education Week as 2001 Budget Awaits Lame-Duck Congress