House leaders moved toward a new budget confrontation with President Clinton Tuesday by proposing to eliminate funding for his Goals 2000 education program. An earlier GOP effort to shrink the program drew a presidential veto, and White House officials said the new effort would meet the same fate.
The Republican proposal to wipe out the program, the centerpiece of the administration’s education overhaul drive, came only one day after a House subcommittee voted to eliminate another Clinton trademark, his national service initiative.
The one-two punch suggested just how aggressively the GOP majority intends to pursue its goal of a balanced budget by 2002, and signaled that even politically popular programs are not safe from cutbacks. Goals 2000, the product of six years of effort by both Clinton and former President Bush, helps states pay for educational reform projects.
White House chief of staff Leon Panetta said the president would veto both measuress.
Tuesday’s proposals did include one exception to the general cutback rule crucial to Massachusetts - a call for more, not less, money for the National Institutes of Health. NIH pays for much of the nation’s biomedical research and pumps almost $1 billion a year in research money into Massachusetts.
Republican Rep. John Porter of Illinois bucked the demands of some colleagues for cuts even in this area, and sought to play on House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s interest in science in trying to add several hundred million dollars to NIH’s more than $11 billion budget. Porter is chairman of the House Apppropriations subcommittee responsible for a substantial chunk of federal spending on health, human services, labor and education.
But even with NIH, the Republicans’ generosity was not as great as it first appeared. Although Porter aides asserted the lawmaker was seeking to boost the agency’s spending by $642 million or 5.7 percent next year, part of the increase simply undid a previously approved cutback in its funding.
On most other matters, the GOP plan would reduce or eliminate funding for a long list of federal programs, among them:
Head Start, a program designed to prepare young children for school, would be cut $200 million or 5.7 percent.
LIHEAP, which now provides $1 billion of heating assistance to poor people, would be eliminated. Many Massachusetts lawmakers argue the program is crucial in cold regions of the country like New England.
Pell Grants, which help lowincome families pay for college tuition. Porter’s aides said funding would be increased to the highest level in the program’s history. But subcommittee documents show that spending would be reduced $480 million or almost 8 percent.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is responsible for improving workplace safety, would see its budget cut almost $50 million or 16 percent.