House Kills Bill To Hike Programs’ Aid by Cutting Others

By Julie A. Miller — May 03, 1989 3 min read

Washington--The House last week rejected a plan by the Democratic leadership that would have financed $4.7 billion in additional 1989 spending for some programs by cutting all other discretionary defense and domestic programs.

The plan would have cut about $98 million from the Education Department’s budget for the current fiscal year. Rival plans offered by the Bush Administration and Representative Silvio O. Conte, Republican of Massachusetts, would have cut education spending even more.

The Democratic leaders had drafted the rejected proposal in response to criticism by lawmakers of the Appropriations Committee’s decision to approve a $4.7-billion supplemental-spending bill without including any offsetting cuts.

“The underlying message [of the4vote] is that the Appropriations Committee should do the work, and when that responsibility is shifted to the floor, chaos generally results,” said Representative Leon E. Panetta, Democrat of California and chairman of the Budget Committee.

Mr. Panetta had vowed to oppose the supplemental-spending bill, H.R. 2072, if no offsetting cuts were included.

Administration officials had8threatened to veto any bill that included the Democratic leadership’s proposed cuts in defense.

In February, President Bush requested about $2.8 billion in additional 1989 funds to cover unexpected increases in mandatory programs--including $892 million to cover shortfalls in the Stafford student-loan program--as well as about $700 million in additional discretionary funding.

The President also proposed cutting most other discretionary domestic programs by 1.1 percent to partially offset the new spending. That would have cost the Education Department about $185 million, according to department officials.

The officials recently told an appropriations panel that the $185-million cut would not severely affect education programs, but panel members were skeptical. (See Education Week, April 12, 1989.)

The Appropriations Committee acel10lcepted many of Mr. Bush’s requests, added some $2 million in other initiatives, and rejected his proposed cuts.

Maneuvers on Both Sides

The panel also rejected, on a 28-to-18 party-line vote, an alternative plan offered by its ranking Republican, Mr. Conte, that Administration officials said was acceptable.

His plan would have removed some of the discretionary spending added by the committee and offset some of the bill’s cost with a 0.67 percent cut in domestic discretionary programs. If applied to all of the Education Department’s $17 billion in 1989 discretionary funding, that cut would have cost about $116 million.

Mr. Conte had planned to offer the proposal as a floor amendment. But he decided instead to argue against adoption of a rule allowing consideration of the supplemental bill, which Continued on Page 17

House Rejects Supplemental Spending Bill

Continued from Page 14

was approved by a vote of 223 to 198. But the bill was withdrawn after the leadership’s amendment was decisively defeated, 252 to 172, by a bipartisan coalition of Democrats opposed to domestic-spending cuts and members of both parties opposed to cuts in defense.

The 0.57 percent across-the-board cut would have slashed $1.7 billion from the defense budget and almost $1 billion from domestic accounts, including about $98 billion from ed4ucation programs.

Representative William H. Natcher, the Kentucky Democrat who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending, called it “a serious mistake.” He noted that it would cut $26 million from Chapter 1, $7 million from Head Start, $11 million from special-education programs, and $33 million from student financial aid.

He urged appropriators to approve a “clean bill” that includes only necessary spending.

A version of this article appeared in the May 03, 1989 edition of Education Week as House Kills Bill To Hike Programs’ Aid by Cutting Others