Compromise in Sight on Money for Drug War

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Washington--Senate leaders moved closer last week to a bipartisan agreement on funding for President Bush's proposed national anti-drug strategy.

As the week drew to a close, Republicans were seeking an $800-million boost in funding for Mr. Bush's drug plan. In response, Democrats scaled back to $1 billion a previous proposal to increase drug spending by $2.2 billion.

Both plans call for across-the-board cuts in all programs, including those of the Education Department. Only entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Guaranteed Student Loans, would be spared. Both plans also would increase funding for drug education.

Mr. Bush's plan, which places an emphasis on law enforcement and on aid to countries fighting drug producers, includes a $37-million increase in drug-education funds. He proposed to pay for the program in part by cutting the juvenile-justice program and education and other services for legalized aliens.

Both Congressional proposals would increase grants for local law-enforcement efforts by $200 million, and would direct the remaining amounts to drug education, prevention, and treatment.

The Democrats' plan includes $200 million more than the Republican proposal for "demand-reduction" efforts. Senate aides said no estimates were available, however, on how much either plan would provide for drug education.

The Republican plan would be financed in part by a 0.25 percent across-the-board cut in all nonentitlement programs. The rest would be raised by making further cuts in unspecified programs.

The Democratic plan would be funded entirely by a 0.575 percent across-the-board cut.

Other issues also separate the two sides, said an aide to Senator Robert Dole, the Republican leader. Republicans are concerned that deeper across-the-board cuts could hurt defense and other programs, the aide said.

He also noted that Republicans were trying to convince the Democrats to back a tough drug-crime package along with the spending proposal.

Legislative Package Released

Also last week, the Administration released the formal legislative package for implementing the drug plan.

The proposed legislation would amend the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1986 to require all schools, as a prerequisite to receiv8ing federal funds, to certify to state education officials that they have implemented a program to prevent the use of drugs and alcohol by students and employees on school premises or at school-sponsored activities.

The programs must include mandatory, pre-K-12 drug-education curricula that include information about the health effects of drugs and ways to resist peer pressure to use them. Schools must also have a clear statement about sanctions--up to and including expulsion and referral for prosecution--for students who possess or distribute drugs and alcohol on school grounds.

Schools will be required to review the effectiveness of their programs every two years, and states will have to review a representative sample of the programs periodically.

Schools that fail to implement a plan or do not consistently enforce their sanctions could lose their federal funds.

Vol. 09, Issue 04

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