Federal File: Labor unrest; Scorecard

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There was division within the Clinton administration last month when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., proposed an amendment to raise Department of Education spending.

The amendment, which was rejected during debate on the continuing resolution now funding the department, would have raised education aid by about $3 billion if its terms were extended through the fiscal year.

Education officials cheered, but others in the administration were apparently less than thrilled. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich called Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to thank him for opposing it, according to Mr. Specter, the chairman of the appropriations panel that handles education, labor, and human-services spending. He revealed the call at a budget hearing last week.

"Adding $3 billion to education would have decimated other programs," he said. If education aid were increased, labor and social-services programs funded by the same bill would presumably have had to be cut to meet budget targets.

Mr. Reich and Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley testified at the hearing and were seated only a few feet apart when Mr. Specter mentioned the phone call. They did not comment on it.

Nine members of the House education panel had perfect voting records on the "Contract With America" in 1995, according to the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report.

The magazine devoted to the workings of Congress identified 66 votes on issues in the contract, which House GOP candidates used as a campaign pledge in 1994. The 104th Congress has enacted only a fraction of the proposals, which were often blocked in the Senate.

Of the 20 House committee chairmen, only five had perfect voting records on contract issues. One of them was Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., the head of the Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, who has been viewed as a moderate broker of bipartisan compromises for most of his career.

Rep. John Edward Porter, R-Ill., who chairs the appropriations panel overseeing education spending, backed the contract 80 percent of the time.

Eight other GOP members of the education panel had a 100 percent voting record on the contract. Rep. Marge Roukema, R-N.J., with a 82 percent score, was the only one to score under 92 percent.

Scores for committee Democrats ranged from 17 percent to 59 percent. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., and Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., were the high scorers.

--Robert C. Johnston & Mark Pitsch

Vol. 15, Issue 25

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