Education Funding

Bush, Congress Still Battling Over Education Budget

By Alyson Klein — November 21, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Department of Education’s budget for fiscal 2008 remains up in the air, after House Democrats narrowly failed to override a presidential veto of a bill that would have raised spending on health, education, and labor programs.

The House fell two votes short, with a vote of 277-141 on Nov. 15, of the two-thirds necessary to override President Bush’s veto of the education spending bill. The measure would have provided $60.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Education for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, a 5.6 percent increase over fiscal 2007, and 8.3 percent more than President Bush requested.

The Senate approved its version of the bill, 56-37, earlier this month, but did not consider the veto override because it failed in the House.

In rejecting the measure Nov. 13, President Bush said the bill was “44 days late and nearly $10 billion over budget, and filled with more than 2,000 earmarks,” or projects requested by individual lawmakers. “Congress needs to cut out that pork, reduce the spending, and send me a responsible measure that I can sign into law,” he said.

Congress has already extended spending for most federal programs at fiscal 2007 levels through Dec. 14. If lawmakers and the administration can’t agree on a new appropriations bill, Congress could pass a long-term extension that would support education, health, and labor programs at last year’s levels for the rest of fiscal 2008.

Urging Compromise

To avoid that outcome, some supporters of the vetoed bill urged Mr. Bush to consider meeting Congress halfway on overall federal spending. The bill would have provided about $10 billion more for education, health, and labor programs than the president requested in the budget plan he unveiled in February.

“In times past, people in this body of good faith have overcome differences far greater than we have tonight,” Rep. James T. Walsh of New York, the top Republican on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending, said Nov. 15. “If the proposal is to split the difference, … I would advise the president to take yes for an answer.”

Rep. Walsh was one of 51 Republicans who voted to override the veto. All 226 House Democrats who voted supported an override.

Education lobbyists voiced dismay at the House’s narrow failure on the override attempt.

“We had hoped it would be possible for [more members of] Congress to stick to their guns,” said Mary Kusler, the assistant director for government relations for the American Association of School Administrators, based in Arlington, Va. “I think there’ll be some sort of compromise between the president’s and Congress’ plans.”

But she predicted that lawmakers and the administration would not necessarily split the difference between Congress’ levels and the administration’s request for every Education Department program. Instead, a compromise bill might be closer to Congress’ level on some items, and closer to the president’s proposal on others, she said.

Mr. Bush had requested $13.9 billion for Title I grants to school districts, while the bill contained $14.3 billion. The program received $12.8 billion in fiscal 2007.

The president asked for $10.5 billion for grants to states for special education, about a 2.7 percent cut from 2007 levels. Congress’ 2008 spending bill called for $11.3 billion, a 4.6 percent increase.

Congress and the administration are even farther apart on other education programs, such as grants to districts under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program. The program received $346.5 million in fiscal 2007; Mr. Bush requested just $100 million for the grants for this year. Congress appropriated $300 million under the rejected spending bill.

A version of this article appeared in the November 28, 2007 edition of Education Week as Bush, Congress Still Battling Over Education Budget


Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Tech Is Everywhere. But Is It Making Schools Better?
Join us for a lively discussion about the ways that technology is being used to improve schools and how it is falling short.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Congress Prepares to Raise the Debt Ceiling. But K-12 Funding Is Still in Jeopardy
Federal spending limits in exchange for raising the debt ceiling could lead to cuts for key K-12 funding like Title I and IDEA.
3 min read
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks with reporters on the debt limit as he walks, Tuesday, May 30, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks with reporters on the debt limit in Washington on May 30, 2023.
Mariam Zuhaib/AP
Education Funding Which Districts Are Most at Risk If America Breaches the Debt Ceiling?
Thousands of districts depend on the federal government for more than 10 percent of their revenue.
A man standing on the edge of a one dollar bill that is folded downward to look like a funding cliff.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding 'So Catastrophic': How a Debt Ceiling Breach Would Hurt Schools
If federal funding stops flowing to schools before July 1, schools' ability to pay billions of dollars in expenses would be at risk.
8 min read
Photo of piggy bank submerged in water.
E+ / Getty
Education Funding How Much Do School Support Staff Make in Each State? (Spoiler: It's Not a Living Wage)
In some states, education support personnel make below $30,000, new data show.
3 min read
Brian Hess, head custodian at the Washburn Elementary School in Auburn, Maine, strips the cafeteria floors in preparation for waxing on Aug. 17, 2021.
Brian Hess, head custodian at Washburn Elementary School in Auburn, Maine, strips the cafeteria floors in preparation for waxing on Aug. 17, 2021.
Andree Kehn/Sun Journal via AP