Dems Fight for Education Dept.

Senate Democrats said Thursday they will mount a filibuster, with the votes to sustain it, if the Labor-HHS appropriations conference report contains a plan to convert many elementary and secondary education programs into a block grant.

"We intend, as 43 Democratic senators, to ensure that the Department of Education is not abolished through some back door attempt in an appropriations bill," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said in releasing a "Dear Conferee" letter.

The Senate version of the bill includes a plan by Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., to convert billions of dollars in education funds into a single block grant. Senate Democrats have argued the plan would eliminate any assurance that federal education funds are spent on the neediest students. However, Republicans counter the proposal gives local school districts more flexibility in determining how the money is spent. The House-passed version of the Labor-HHS bill does not include the provision. Conferees on the Labor-HHS bill are scheduled to hold a preliminary meeting today.

Dorgan argued that the block grant proposal should not have been included in an appropriations measure, contending it was passed after an "anemic debate." He warned, "There will be fierce resistance the next time this is discussed."

Discussing the filibuster threat, Gorton said, "That, under the rules of the Senate, is their right." He said, however, that Democrats risk harming health and other programs if they block the Labor-HHS bill. He said he expects conferees will have "sufficient" time to discuss the impact of his amendment. Democratic and Republican senators said Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has not indicated how strongly he will fight for the Senate position in conference.

However, House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Porter, R-Ill., said the filibuster threat will have an impact on conferees.

"If they're going to filibuster the bill over there, it makes it very difficult to include it," Porter said, later adding, "If Sen. Specter tells me he can't pass the bill ... I'm going to pay a great deal of attention to what he tells me."

Gorton and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., charged that the Education Department is providing states with misleading information about the impact of the amendment.

They said there is a "hold harmless" provision that guarantees that states will not have their education funds cut, although individual school districts could lose funds.

Hagel said he was "appalled" by the Education Department's "distortion."

"I have never seen such arrogance like this," Hagel charged.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.