Senate Votes $21,8 Billion for E.D.

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WASHINGTON--The Senate last week approved an appropriations bill that would provide nearly $21.8 billion for the Education Department in 1989.

The final 60-to-18 vote was the culmination of three days of debate on abortion, contraceptives for teen-agers, AIDS education, and school-based clinics forced by Republican Senators Jesse A. Helms of North Carolina and Gordon J. Humphrey of New Hampshire.

On the first day of debate, Mr. Humphrey objected to the routine move of considering amendments approved by the Appropriations Committee as a bloc, forcing separate readings of dozens of small changes and opening more opportunities to insert amendments.

Mr. Helms offered a raft of amendments; all failed, although some were defeated by narrow margins.

Two would have banned federal funding of contraceptive and abortion services at school clinics, and one would have required federal aid recipients giving contraceptives to a minor to notify the parents.

Two Democrats, Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Alan Cranston of California, precipitated several rounds of debate on AIDS education by winning approval of an amendment replacing a provision--attached to the 1988 budget bill by Mr. Helms--that prohibited federal funding of educational materials that "directly promote or encourage homosexual activity.''

State and local health officials have complained that the Helms amendment interfered with their ability to provide effective education about acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

The new language--approved by a vote of 61 to 37--would ban funding of programs that "promote or encourage, directly or indirectly, intravenous drug abuse or sexual activity, homosexual or heterosexual.''

It would also require that education efforts be designed to provide "accurate information'' to reduce exposure to the AIDS virus, and offer information on the risks of "promiscuous'' sex and drug abuse.

Mr. Helms and Mr. Humphrey made repeated attempts to restore more-restrictive language.

Chapter 2 Funds Shifted

More successful were several senators who raided the Appropriations Committee's allocation for Chapter 2 block grants to shift $26 million to new programs they had sponsored. The programs, which were not funded in the committee bill, were created this year in the Hawkins-Stafford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement Act.

Senator Bill Bradley, Democrat of New Jersey, won $10 million for a grant program aimed at gifted and talented students; that took $2 million from the Education Department's management account and $8 million from Chapter 2.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, transferred $8 million from Chapter 2 to a literacy program for limited-English-proficient adults. And Mr. Kennedy shifted $10 million to a literacy-corps program, which calls for college students to tutor illiterate adults.

The total earmarked for the Education Department represents a $1.5-billion increase from 1988, but the bill includes about $190 million less than the version of HR 4783 passed by the House in June.

The bills now go to a House-Senate conference committee.

"Just because we're going into conference with two different numbers doesn't mean we will come out between the two,'' said Susan Frost, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying group. "Unfortunately, [the outcome] is not really dependent on substance, but on the politics of the moment.''

Differing Constraints

The difference between the House and Senate bills is due largely to the different constraints placed on the subcommittees that drafted them.

Because the two Appropriations panels divided available funds among subcommittees in different ways, the Senate panel that oversees funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education had only $39.4 billion to work with, $300 million less than its House counterpart.

This disparity could complicate negotiations, because approving a high total for the Labor-HHS-Education bill would mean that conferees on another bill would have to agree to a lower total.

But extra funds may be available, Ms. Frost noted, because some appropriations bills have already emerged from conference committees bearing smaller-than-maximum totals.

She also noted that many senators would like to see a higher allocation for health and education programs, and that both chambers had approved a nonbinding budget blueprint alloting $40.2 billion to the Labor subcommittee.

Mr. Kennedy renewed the fight for a bigger allotment last week, when he attached a "sense of the Senate'' amendment to the budget bill that instructs conferees to work for a final product that includes $39.8 billion.

Individual Programs

Conferees must also resolve differences in the funding levels for individual programs, including:

  • Chapter 1. Both bills would provide $3.9 billion for compensatory-education grants to school districts, the amount requested by the Administration.

But the House bill would fund two new Chapter 1 programs authorized by the Hawkins-Stafford Act that the Senate bill would not fund. Even Start, a program for disadvantaged preschoolers and their parents, would receive $25 million under the House bill.

The bill allotted $30 million to help districts comply with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Aguilar v. Felton, which placed restrictions on the methods used to provide remedial services to pupils in nonpublic schools.

The House also earmarked $25 million more than the Senate for concentration grants to districts with large numbers of poor students. The two chambers differ on what minimum share of the concentration grants should be guaranteed to small states. The authorizing law sets a $250-million minimum, but an amendment added last week to the Senate bill sets the minimum at $340 million for 1989.

  • Chapter 2. With the transfers approved last week, the Senate bill would cut state block grants by $26 million, providing $37 million less than the House request and $88 million less than the Education Department's proposal.
  • Mathematics and science education. The Senate would provide $139 million, $19 million more than the House.
  • Impact aid. The Senate would provide $714 million, $9 million more than the House request and $157 million more than the Administration proposal.
  • Bilingual education. Both bills would provide $112 million for basic grants to school districts, but the House earmarked $5 million more for teacher training.
  • Special education. The Senate would allocate in excess of $2 billion, $87 million more than the House plan. The Senate figure includes $1.5 billion for basic state grants--$30 million more than in the House version--and $250 million for preschool incentive grants, topping the House figure by $45 million.
  • Vocational education. The Senate bill allocates about $917 million, $8 million less than the House.
  • Student aid. The Senate would fund Pell Grants at $4.57 billion, $46 million more than the House proposal, and match the House mark of $5 million for income-contingent loans.

But the Senate would provide less than the House for other student-aid programs, earmarking $416.6 million for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, $600 million for work-study, and $183 million for the Perkins Loan fund.

  • Education research. The Senate would provide a total of $74.5 million for research activities--$9 million less than the House bill and $10 million less than the Administration had requested. The Center for Education Statistics would receive $20 million of that total, plus $9.5 million for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Both bills would provide $115 million for aid to magnet schools, $250 million for anti-drug programs, and $41.3 million for civil-rights enforcement.

Vol. 07, Issue 39 Extra Edition

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