Federal

Education Spending Bill Uncertain in Lame-Duck Session

By Alyson Klein — November 28, 2006 2 min read

Education legislation took a back seat to other priorities during much of the 109th Congress, a pattern that appears likely to continue in the lame-duck session that began after Election Day.

Federal lawmakers have still not agreed on the spending bill for education, health, and labor programs for fiscal 2007, which began on Oct. 1. It’s up in the air whether Congress will complete work on the measure before adjourning for the year.

Some congressional aides say the appropriations bill covering the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services is likely to be folded into an omnibus spending measure that would finance many departments and agencies for fiscal 2007. Others say lawmakers could simply extend the 2006 funding, leaving the new, Democratic-controlled Congress to finish the bill in January.

Both chambers’ pending bills would provide less money for the Department of Education than last fiscal year’s $57.85 billion. The House bill would fund the department at $56.15 billion, or a 2.9 percent decrease, while the Senate’s would provide $55.79 billion, or 3.6 percent decrease. The appropriations committees in both chambers have approved the bills, but they are awaiting floor action.

If the spending bill isn’t complete by the end of the session, Congress will have to approve another stopgap measure continuing 2006 funding to next year.

John Scofield, a spokesman for Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., the outgoing chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that the chances of getting the Labor-HHS-Education spending measure passed on its own were “slim to none.”

But Margaret Wicker, a spokeswoman for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the outgoing chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the senator hopes to pass each spending bill individually before the 109th Congress adjourns.

Leadership Shuffle

One reason Congress didn’t make much headway on spending and other bills when members returned after the Nov. 7 elections is that time was taken up in choosing new leaders. As expected, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the outgoing minority leader, was unanimously selected by the House Democratic Conference as its choice for speaker of the House in the next Congress.

But Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, Ms. Pelosi’s preferred candidate for majority leader, the No. 2 slot in the Democratic leadership, lost to Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, on a 149-86 vote of members of the 110th Congress. In the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the current minority leader, was unanimously chosen as majority leader.

Although the Democrats will be in control come January, it was the Republican leadership races that may have had broader implications for education policy. In the House, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, the current majority leader, beat Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, by a vote of 168-27, to become the minority leader for the House GOP in the next Congress.

As the chairman of House Education and the Workforce Committee until earlier this year, Rep. Boehner was a key architect of the No Child Left Behind Act, while Rep. Pence voted against the law and has disparaged its expansion of the federal role in education.

Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi edged out, on a vote of 25-24, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee for minority whip, the second-highest post for Senate Republicans. If Sen. Alexander, a former secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, had won the post, he may have pushed the Republicans to make education legislation a higher priority.

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2006 edition of Education Week as Education Spending Bill Uncertain in Lame-Duck Session

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela
Teaching Live Online Discussion How to Develop Powerful Project-Based Learning
How do you prepare students to be engaged, active, and empowered young adults? Creating a classroom atmosphere that encourages students to pursue critical inquiry and the many skills it requires demands artful planning on the

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

Federal LGBTQ Students Are Protected by Federal Anti-Discrimination Law, Education Dept. Says
Schools violate Title IX when they discriminate against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the agency said Wednesday.
4 min read
Demonstrators gather on the step of the Montana State Capitol on March 15, 2021 protesting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Helena, Mont. The Montana Senate Judiciary Committee voted March 18 to advance two bills targeting transgender youth despite overwhelming testimony opposing the measures. The measures would ban gender affirming surgeries for transgender minors and ban transgender athletes from participating in school and college sports. Both bills have already passed the Montana House. They head next to votes by the GOP-controlled Montana Senate.
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Montana State Capitol in March to protest bills on transgender students' ability to play on single-sex sports teams.
Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP
Federal Republicans Want Federal Funding Cuts to Schools Using '1619 Project'—But There's a Twist
A bill from U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton, Mitch McConnell, and others targets schools using lessons based on the New York Times Magazine series.
4 min read
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill.
Evelyn Hockstein/AP
Federal What's at Stake in a Review of Federal Sex Discrimination Protections for Students
The Biden administration's review of Title IX may prompt new guidance on how schools deal with sexual harassment and protect LGBTQ students.
10 min read
Image of gender symbols drawn in chalk.
joxxxxjo/iStock/Getty
Federal Opinion Education Outlets Owe Readers More Than the Narratives They Want to Hear
It's vital that serious news organizations challenge runaway narratives and help readers avoid going down ideological rabbit holes.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty