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House Democratic leaders last week postponed a vote on a multi-billion-dollar education bill promoted extensively by the National Education Association, effectively killing it for the remainder of the current session of the Congress, according to House aides.

The staff members said that a number of House Democrats raised last-minute concerns over voting for the high-cost bill, which has been attacked by the Reagan Administration as a "budget buster."

And, the sources said, many Democrats urged their leaders to let the bill die after learning the morning of the scheduled vote of Republican plans to offer school-prayer and tuition tax-credit amendments to it.

Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California and chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, agreed to allow several hours of debate but not to bring the bill and its amendments to the floor for a vote.

The proposed American defense education act, HR 5609, would have established a fund for grants to local school districts to improve their programs in mathematics, science, for-eign languages, technology, and for other educational needs.

According to Congressional Budget Office figures, the program would have cost about $8 billion over the next five years.

The nea remains "very pleased with the progress that the bill has made," a spokesman for the group said. "[This is] just another step in getting it passed by the Congress" either in this session or the next, which begins in January 1985.

Between fiscal 1980 and 1984, federal spending for education fell 21 percent, when adjusted for inflation, a Congressional analysis has concluded. But despite numerous Presidential proposals to reform the government's role in education, federal support "appears strikingly similar to such support prior to the Reagan Administration," it notes.

Under the President's $15.5-billion proposal for education in fiscal 1985, "actual purchasing power" of Education Department funds would have fallen to 24.7 percent of their fiscal 1980 level, according to the Aug. 20 report prepared for the Congress by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Lawmakers are expected to approve about $17.2 billion in educa-tion spending for fiscal 1985.

Funding for the six major federal programs in elementary and secondary schools fell, when adjusted for inflation, between fiscal 1980 and fiscal 1984, according to the report. Funding declines ranged from 9.3 percent--for the state-grant program for special education--to 55.8 percent for programs now funded under Chapter 2 block grants.

In the other programs, compensatory-education funds have fallen 19.7 percent; bilingual-education funds, 39.8 percent; impact aid, 40.3 percent; and vocational-education funds, 29.8 percent, according to the report.

Of the three higher-education programs listed--Pell Grants, Guaranteed Student Loans, and College Work Study--only funds for gsl's have increased in real dollars, the report noted.

For fiscal 1985, the Congress blocked a proposal to increase the previous year's appropriation of $550 million by $300 million. The program was funded at $550 million in fiscal 1980.

The study also reported that the Chapter 2 block-grants program is the only one of Mr. Reagan's proposals that the Congress has accepted. Otherwise, "Congressional response to the President's proposals generally has not been positive."

The crs report was this year's update of a periodic analysis of the effect of Mr. Reagan's budget cuts in education.

Vol. 04, Issue 03

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