Federal News in Brief

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Welfare Reform Becomes Law

President Clinton has signed landmark welfare legislation that ends 60 years of federal guarantees to millions of poor children and their families. The law, PL 104-193, transfers control of most federal welfare programs to the states, requires people on welfare to work, and imposes a five-year lifetime on welfare benefits.

"Today, we are taking a historic chance to make welfare what it was meant to be: a second chance, not a way of life," Mr. Clinton said in an Aug. 22 signing ceremony at the White House.

The president's endorsement of the Republican-backed legislation has infuriated many of his strongest Democratic supporters, including children's-advocacy and education groups that claim the measure will push many children into poverty. (Please see " Clinton Endorses Republican Plan To Overhaul Welfare," August 7, 1996.)

Veggies Top Wasted-Food List

One in four managers of school cafeterias that participate in the National School Lunch Program say students are wasting the food on their plates, a recent General Accounting Office report shows.

The study, which surveyed cafeteria supervisors about student eating patterns in 81,911 public schools nationwide, found that food was not the first thing on students' minds at lunchtime. For example, 78 percent of the managers reported that students wasted food because their attention was on recess, free time, or socializing rather than eating.

Managers said 42 percent of the students wasted cooked vegetables, while only 11 percent failed to drink their milk.

Clinton Vows Immigration Veto

President Clinton has vowed to veto an immigration-reform bill if it includes a controversial provision that would allow states to deny illegal-immigrant children a free public education.

Members of the Clinton administration, including Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Attorney General Janet Reno, have said repeatedly in recent months that they would urge Mr. Clinton to veto the bill if it included the so-called Gallegly amendment. (Please see "Pressure Builds To Nix School Ban for Illegal Immigrants," June 19, 1996.)

But in an Aug. 2 letter to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., the president issued his first clear veto threat.

"If the immigration bill contains this provision, I will veto it," Mr. Clinton's letter said. "We can agree on so much in the legislation that would help what we are already doing. Let us move forward with illegal immigration enforcement legislation without this misguided measure." He also pledged to veto any compromise that would require schools to verify children's immigration status and exclude those children who could not afford tuition.

A House-Senate conference committee on HR 2202 has been stalled for weeks. The House's version of the bill includes the education provision; the Senate's does not.

Wolanin Steps Down at ED

Thomas R. Wolanin will retire at the end of this month as the Department of Education's deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs, a post he has held since 1993.

Mr. Wolanin, 54, was a longtime congressional aide who worked on the House Education and Labor Committee before joining the department.

"I certainly enjoyed seeing the executive side of the street after working on the Hill for 17 years," he said in an interview. "I have new respect for the bureaucrats we used to deride."

Juvenile-Justice Bills Advance

The House and the Senate judiciary committees have each approved legislation that would dramatically restructure the Department of Justice office that handles juvenile-justice and youth-crime-prevention programs.

The measures, HR 3565 and S 1952, would reauthorize $160 million in funds for the office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

But the bills would also transfer control of many federal grant programs to the states and give state lawmakers more flexibility to devise their own crime-prevention approaches.

The Senate bill would also create a separate office in the Justice Department to research and evaluate ways to combat youth violence. The research department is now part of the juvenile-justice office.

The bills are expected to move to the House and Senate floors later this month.

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

The President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans will meet on Sept. 12-13 in San Antonio and hold a public forum on the quality of education available to Hispanics. ... The executive committee of the National Assessment Governing Board will meet Sept. 16 in Rosemont, Ill., to discuss, among other subjects, the schedule of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, its national achievement test. ... The President's Committee on Mental Retardation will meet Sept. 26 in Arlington, Va., to discuss federal policy, state collaboration, and federal research. ... In the Aug. 13 Federal Register, the Department of Education detailed the 31 waivers it granted to states and school districts under the Title I, Goals 2000, and school-to-work programs during the first half of this year. Among the waiver winners: the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning, which will now be able to pool administrative funds under bilingual-education programs and the American Immigrant Education Program with other federal administrative funds to coordinate activities that encompass several federal programs.

Vol. 16, Issue 01

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