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SEPTEMBER 12, 1997.........................................................Number 59


Late yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives reached an agreement on four amendments to the appropriations bill that will impact education and special education. Most notably among these is the "Riggs" amendment that will deny special education services to youth between the ages of 18 to 21 who are incarcerated in adult prisons. Other amendments included in the approved package include a provision offered by Mr. Goodling that essentially scuttles the administration's provision for a national testing program; a provision to move $55 million dollars out of Goals 2000 and into Part B of the IDEA; and a provision to fund "comprehensive" school reform at a level of $200 million. Friday Fax does not know where the $200 million will come from, but it is reported that these are not "new" dollars. A vote is anticipated on these amendments early today (Friday). At this point in the process, it appears there is now no way of stopping the passage of these amendments in the House.


Earlier today Senator Gorton won passage of a sweeping amendment that would radically alter the manner in which Title One (K-12) regular education monies would be distributed, as well as monies in the Vocational Rehabilitation Act in the areas of Adult and Vocational Education and Research. It appears that few people expected this amendment to pass.....and yet it did. The amendment places all of the Title One education dollars in a block grant that is moved directly to local school districts. The funds would be distributed to school districts on the basis of the FY 1997 pupil census. Districts would be free to spend this money in any way they see fit. Under the provisions of this amendment, the U.S. Department of Education would have no role in monitoring educational programs or expenditures of these funds. Several education programs were exempted from this amendment. In particular the IDEA and its funds are exempt from the provisions of this amendment. In addition to the Title One Education funds, 50% of the Vocational Rehabilitation funds that now support Adult and continuing Education as well as Research funds will be block granted and would likewise be forwarded directly to local school districts.



The next steps for both the House and Senate appropriations bills is the Conference Committee. It is not likely that the members who will be designated as conferees will be known before tomorrow and probably not until next week. The Conference could begin in the next 7-10 days although it is likely that Congress will pass a short-term continuing resolution on October 1st, thereby allowing Members a little more time to prepare for the Conference. It seems clear that if we are to impact these amendments in a positive way, it must be done in the Conference Committee. Therefore, stay tuned and get ready to communicate aggressively and tenaciously over the next few weeks with members of the Conference Committee. As soon as the Conference members are identified, we will provide you that information along with phone and fax numbers. While many critical issues will dominate the coming Conference, it is important that we not lose sight of the fact that the Senate appropriations figure for the IDEA is roughly $500 million higher that the House. The Senate is $3.9 billion and the House is $3.4 billion. Above all else we must assure the Senate figure prevails in conference.


On September 18th, an open meeting will be held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building concerning the Reauthorization of the Vocational Education Act. Stay tuned for more details and check the NPND Web site at


On Thursday, September 4, 1997, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), joined by Congressman Jon D. Fox (R-PA), introduced an amendment on the House floor to restore $32.8 million for the Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program" (CBFRS) for FY 1998. The U.S. House of Representatives, without controversy, quickly passed the DeFazio amendment to the FY 1998 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Bill. The National Respite Coalition, working in concert with other national organizations, including the National Parent Network on Disabilities, mobilized their grassroots quickly to garner House support for this amendment. Thanks to Congressman DeFazio's unrelenting leadership on this issue, CBFRS funding is secure through FY 1998. CBFRS consolidates the former Temporary Child Care for Children with Disabilities and Crisis Nurseries program and includes important funds for state development and expansion of respite services, including TCCA continuation grants and the ARCH National Resource Center on Respite and Crisis Services. The Senate version of the FY 1998 Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill is being considered this week, and includes $32.8 million for CBFRS. Reports from a few States indicate that State agencies have been slow to recognize the role respite is intended to play in the new law, and may not be dedicating the necessary resources to respite. Contact Jill Kagan, National Respite Coalition, at (703) 256-9578 for info.

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