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White House, Miller Exchange Words Over Funding

The fight over funding has begun in earnest, and NCLB's fate is caught up in it.

The White House yesterday issued a "statement of administration policy" saying the president would veto Congress' bill to finance education and other domestic programs. "It includes an irresponsible and excessive level of spending," the statement says.

The bill, which the House has passed and is awaiting a Senate vote, would increase funding for Title I—NCLB's largest program—by $402 million more than the president's budget. It also would provide more money than the president proposed for several smaller programs, such as the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program. Overall, the labor, health and human services, and education programs in the bill would get $22 billion more than the president proposed, the White House statement says.

In his response, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., says the president is shortchanging the law and his veto of an appropriations bill would make it difficult to secure congressional passage of a bill to reauthorize NCLB.

"This week, by saying he will veto additional funding for America’s schools," he writes, "President Bush sharply reduced the prospects for good faith bipartisan negotiation over the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. Congress seeks a much-needed increase in education funding, and the president rejects it."

Rep. Miller adds: "The president proved, yet again, that he is not serious about creating a world-class public education system. He thinks he can have his education legacy on the cheap. He is profoundly mistaken."

That's the end of round one. More to come.

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