The House Appropriations Committee voted last week to essentially freeze overall spending at the Department of Education.
The $56.7 billion in discretionary spending approved by the committee dismissed President Bush’s request to cut the agency’s budget, eclipsing his fiscal 2006 request by nearly $650 million. The Republican-controlled panel also rejected a few of Mr. Bush’s top priorities, especially new plans to improve high schools. (“House Panel Turns Down Bush’s High School Agenda,” June 15, 2005.)
The bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education was passed by a voice vote on June 16.
The House bill would keep funding about the same for certain major programs, like Title I, teacher-quality state grants, and Reading First. But it would reduce or abolish the budgets for others. The bill would create the Teacher Incentive Fund, a merit-pay initiative proposed by President Bush, though the $100 million funding level is well below Mr. Bush’s request.
Democrats have complained that the bill would shortchange programs for education and other top priorities.
Rep. David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, backed away from his plans to offer an amendment to exempt states and districts from the No Child Left Behind Act’s demands if the law was not “fully” funded.