Senate Approves $436 Million in 1995 Education Cuts

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The Senate last week unanimously approved its version of budget-cutting legislation, but Democrats forced the Republican leadership to scale back cuts in education and other social-service programs.

S 617 cleared the Senate by a vote of 99 to 0. It would rescind $16 billion that had been appropriated for fiscal 1995, which began Oct. 1, including about $436 million in education funding.

Education programs were slated for $704 million in cuts in the original Senate bill. The House version, HR 1158, proposes rescissions of $1.7 billion in Education Department programs.

Both bodies of Congress are now in recess, and a conference committee will not meet until next month. The measures are intended to pay for disaster relief and reduce the budget deficit.

Edward R. Kealy, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, an umbrella lobbying organization here, said the Senate action is a positive sign for education programs' ability to withstand spending-cut pressures.

"The bottom line is education has really shown its ability to stop this rescission juggernaut," Mr. Kealy said.

"Now our concern is that we still have programs that have been cut," he added. "There are still cuts out there, and we still have to go through conference."

Clinton Administration officials expressed similar sentiments.

"We are disappointed that at this late date the Congress still is cutting funds slated for the education of America's children," Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said in a statement. "At the same time, we are pleased that the Senate ... restored some of the deep cuts made by the House."

Compromise Amendment

After the Senate leadership held off consideration of the bill for several days in an effort to round up votes, the majority and minority leaders, Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., crafted the amendment to restore some of the proposed education cuts and offset them in other areas.

To encourage the White House to support the bill, Mr. Dole attached another amendment to S 617 that would provide $275 million in debt relief to the nation of Jordan, a foreign-policy priority for the Administration that had been included in another bill.

But the compromise was rejected by Senate Democrats who did not want to give up their option to offer additional amendments to restore proposed cuts and who were concerned about some of the offsetting cuts that would be made in order to restore the threatened funding.

When Senator Dole first moved to close debate on the measure, the motion failed by a vote of 56 to 44, four votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture under Senate rules.

Mr. Dole then agreed to restore more cuts, including $21.6 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Democrats agreed to allow a vote on S 617.

The $835 million in proposed cuts restored by the amendments includes $60 million of the $67.6 million that was to be sliced from funding for the Goals 2000: Educate America Act; $25 million of the $30 million cut proposed for the School-to-Work Opportunities Act; the $72.5 million that was to be cut from Title I; the proposed $100 million cut from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act; $105 million that was to be slashed from the Administration's national-service program; $42 million for Head Start; and $35 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

Defense Bill Clears

Still, several education programs would suffer cuts under the Senate measure, including professional-development grants, which would lose $69 million of a 1995 appropriation of $320.3 million.

In separate action last week, the House and Senate approved a compromise $3 billion supplemental defense-spending bill and sent it to the President.

The final bill approved by a conference committee would trim $35 million in 1995 spending for Pell Grants, $200 million from youth job-training programs, and $65 million of the $100 million appropriated for school construction. The House version would have eliminated all of the construction money.

Vol. 14, Issue 29

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