Congress may be headed for a fight over money for a wheat research center at Washington State University.
The Senate wants to keep $426,000 for the center in an upcoming spending bill, Sens. Slade Gorton and Patty Murray said Thursday.
The House of Representatives cut the money for the center earlier this year, when it trimmed some $17.3 billion in spending from the fiscal 1994 budget.
Murray and Gorton, both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, argued the wheat research center was a worthy expense.
“Everyone is looking for programs to cut and I think there are many federal expenditures that should be eliminated,” Murray said, “but the wheat research facility at WSU has a legitimate purpose and should be funded.”
“Balancing the budget won’t happen on the backs of rural agriculture communities,” Gorton said. The cut was planned because the money hadn’t been spent last year, not because Congress considered the center unimportant, he added.
A joint Senate and House committee that works out the differences between the two spending bills will decide later whether to include money for the center.
The two senators had different partisan interpretations of the House decision to cut the center’s money.
Democrat Murray said funding for the project originally was secured by former House Speaker Tom Foley “but House Republicans put the project in jeopardy two weeks ago.”
Gorton complimented fellow Republican Rep. George Nethercutt, Foley’s replacement, for “working very hard to make sure members know why this funding can’t be cut.”