Education Spending Bill Uncertain in Lame-Duck Session

By Alyson Klein — November 28, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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


Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!

Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

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 'A Snitch Line on Parents.' GOP Reps Grill AG Over Response to Threats on School Officials
Attorney General Merrick Garland said his effort is meant to address violent threats against school boards, not to stifle parents' dissent.
5 min read
LEFT: Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. RIGHT: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, questions Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, left, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the U.S. Department of Justice on Capitol Hill on Thursday, questioned by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, among others.
Greg Nash via AP, Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal School Boards, 'Domestic Terrorism,' and Free Speech: Inside the Debate
From critical race theory to COVID policy, the heat on schools has raised issues involving free speech and the safety of public officials.
13 min read
Brenda Stephens, a school board member with Orange County Public Schools in Hillsborough, N.C. has purchased a weapon and taken a concealed carry class over concerns for her personal safety.
Brenda Stephens, a school board member in Hillsborough, N.C., says board members face threats and bullying, an atmosphere far different from what she's encountered in years of board service.
Kate Medley for Education Week
Federal Senate Confirms Catherine Lhamon to Civil Rights Post; Kamala Harris Casts Decisive Vote
Joe Biden's controversial pick to lead the Education Department's office for civil rights held that job in the Obama administration.
2 min read
Catherine Lhamon, nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Catherine Lhamon, then-nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in July.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Federal White House Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plans for Kids 5-11
The Biden administration will rely on schools, pharmacies, and pediatricians to help deliver the COVID-19 shots to younger children.
3 min read
Ticket number 937 sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Jan. 14, 2021, in Newnan, Ga.
A ticket number sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds in Newnan, Ga.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP