The Republican-led Congress appears destined this year to approve the largest spending increase ever for the Department of Education, but not by Oct. 1, when the new federal fiscal year begins.
Observers predicted that Congress would pass a “continuing resolution” this week to keep the government operating after Sept. 30 and until President Clinton has signed spending bills for all federal agencies for fiscal 2001.
House and Senate negotiators have worked out a tentative agreement that would step up discretionary spending for the Education Department by an unprecedented $5.2 billion—or nearly 15 percent—over this fiscal years $35.6 billion, as part of the overall budget bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Although the GOP plan would offer slightly more money for education than the president requested, as drafted it would face an almost-certain veto because it rejects some of Mr. Clinton’s education priorities, particularly funding specifically earmarked for his class- size-reduction program and new aid for school construction costs.
Last week, leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees began meeting with White House officials on the budget, but critical points of the spending agreement remained up in the air. “Its fluid and foggy,” said Joel E. Packer, a senior lobbyist for the National Education Association.
Meanwhile, the Committee on Education Funding, a broad-based coalition of groups that advocates higher federal spending for education, planned to host its annual legislative conference and awards banquet on Monday of this week.
Among those receiving awards this year are Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., who serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
—Erik W. Robelen