On July 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a $4.2 billion increase for education over last year and $2.8 billion more than the President’s budget for fiscal 2003. The bill was essentially the same as the bill that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) reported out of the Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee that he chairs. A similar increase is unlikely in the House where many Republicans are hesitant to spend more than the amount the President requested. The Senate bill included a $1.5 billion increase for Title I- $500 million more than the President’s budget, but $4.15 less than the amount authorized in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)
Last week House conservatives secured a promise from Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) that the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill would be the first spending bill Congress considers after its August recess. House conservatives sought the deal because they do not want to exceed the President’s request of $759 billion for all appropriations bills. They feared small increases to noncontroversial bills would use up all of the money available for increases in the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill. If that happened, Congress would have no choice but to go over the President’s budget in order to get the votes to pass the Labor, HHS, Education spending bill. In the words of Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI), as quoted in CQ Weekly:
“We pass the early bills that are somewhat popular, somewhat overspending, and then we end up with the tough bills later on for veterans, education-with an appropriation that is so low, so below anybody’s request that you have to increase the [overall] amount . . .and you come up busting the budget.”
Most observers believe that few, if any, Democrats would support a Labor-HHS-Education bill at the President’s requested level and it would have to pass entirely on Republican support-forcing many Republican members to cast a politically damaging vote very close to an election. The House Appropriations subcommittee is set to mark up the bill Sept. 5.
NCLB Authorized: For elementary and secondary education, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) programs are currently funded at $6.2 billion below the FY02 authorized funding levels.
Categories:No Child Left Behind