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Tight Budget in the House

March 30, 2006

The House Budget Committee was headed last night toward approving a budget blueprint for the 2007 fiscal year that would hew closely to the spending plan put forward by President Bush in February.

In its deliberations, the committee rejected an amendment to the budget resolution that would have raised the amount of money that would go to the appropriations subcommittee that sets spending for education and health programs -- but college officials are hopeful that members of the House will approve a comparable amendment when the budget resolution hits the House floor next week.

The House panel began work Tuesday on its version of the budget resolution for the 2007 fiscal year. Each year, Congress passes a budget resolution that sets ceilings for how much money the various appropriations subcommittees will have to award to the programs under their jurisdictions, but does not dictate exactly how they must spend the funds.

Earlier this month, the Senate approved a budget plan that significantly exceeded President Bush's proposed spending levels for education, labor and health programs, especially after lawmakers approved a $7 billion addition to the allocation for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Programs.

The budget blueprint put forward by Rep. Jim Nussle (D-Iowa), chairman of the House Budget Committee, would largely mirror the budget President Bush put forward that called for cutting funds for numerous programs important to colleges, including the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act.

While the House panel on Wednesday rejected an amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro that would have followed the Senate's lead in adding funds for the appropriations subcommittee for education and health programs, college leaders hold out some hope that the full House will do just that when it takes up the bill. On Tuesday, Delaware Rep. Michael Castle, a moderate Republican who is a leading supporter of higher education, said he would introduce an amendment on the House floor that mirrored the $7 billion Senate addition sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

“The House will need to mirror that amendment process,” Castle said. “The Senate opened the door, we have to follow.” 

Although Castle said he was uncertain of the prospects for his amendment, college lobbyists said they were hopeful that enough of Castle's moderate Republican colleagues would join with Democrats in supporting his effort.

 

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