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The Congress late last month gave final approval to a supplemental spending bill after deleting provisions that would have provided an additional $1.2 billion for Head Start and some extra money for children's health programs.

The provisions, which were added on the House floor, would have declared the spending an "emergency," thus exempting it from budget caps.

Most observers viewed the House action as a political statement, and House-Senate conferees had been expected to drop the provisions.

President Bush said he would veto a supplemental bill that included any spending other than disaster relief and money needed to pay lingering costs of the Persian Gulf War. He could also have refused to agree to the emergency declaration, a move that could have forced across-the-board spending cuts in domestic programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded grants worth $7 million to help Head Start programs "effectively deal with the problems of substance abuse, illiteracy, and unemployment."

An underlying principle of the education and support program for disadvantaged preschoolers is that families are in the best position to nurture and educate their children. But factors such as drug abuse, joblessness, and illiteracy "threaten the capacity of families to sustain their own and their children's participation in Head Start," said Jo Anne B. Barnhart, assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, in announcing the grants.

The 28 awards will establish "Head Start Family Service Center Demonstration Projects" to explore solutions and offer case-management services to help Head Start families become self- sufficient.

Grantees include city and community agencies, public schools, a university, and a Native American tribe.

In a victory for Pizza Hut and other purveyors of pizza, the Congress adopted a measure last month that would exempt freshly made meat-topped pizzas sold to schools from a second safety inspection.

Under current law, meat-topped pizzas are held to the same safety standards as other meat products.

The new measure, which goes into effect next August, would make meat-topped pizzas eligible for exemptions currently allowed for other types of meat-based food products sold to schools.

Consumer-health advocates had argued that the second inspections were needed to maintain food safety.

A proposed land swap involving the site of the Phoenix Indian School has again been endangered as negotiations have broken down over the issue of asbestos removal.

The complicated and protracted negotiations, which involve officials of the Interior Department, the Phoenix municipal government, and the Barron Collier Company, a land-development corporation based in Naples, Fla., have most recently become snagged over the issue of who should pay to remove asbestos from the school buildings.

The land swap, under which the developer would trade 108,000 acres of wetlands in Florida for the 88 acre school site, has been in danger of collapsing several times since it was approved by the Congress in 1988. The law requires the deal to be completed by Dec. 11.

The Senate Nov. 27 approved legislation that would require the Interior Department to remove the asbestos. But the House has not voted on the measure, and the Congress is not scheduled to meet again until January.

Nonetheless, an Interior Department spokesman said negotiations were continuing last week.

The Education Department has released a report that is designed to serve as the framework for the reform of the schooling of Native American students. The 60-page report, called Indian Strategy for Action, was drafted by a task force over the course of 18 months. The 14-member panel, which was appointed by former Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, was co-chaired by former Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell and William Demmert, a former Alaska commissioner of education.

The final version of the document, released last week in Washington and at a conference in San Francisco, closely resembles a draft obtained by Education Week several months ago. (See Education Week, Sept. 4, 1991 .)

The report uses the national education goals adopted by President Bush and the nation's governors as a foundation for the establishment of 10 goals to guide the improvement of education for Indian children in all federal, tribal, private, and public schools.

The Congress has adopted a measure that ends an argument between states and the federal government over the way states can raise money for their Medicaid programs.

Earlier this fall, the Bush Administration proposed a rule that would have dramatically reduced the ability of states to impose special taxes and raise matching funds for Medicaid.

The final bill, adopted last month, imposes certain caps on states. The measure was a compromise between the Administration and the National Governors' Association, which warned that the proposed rule could have crippled Medicaid programs.

Vol. 11, Issue 15, Page 25

Published in Print: December 11, 1991, as Capital Digest
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