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GOP Stopgap Proposal Would Slash History, Tech Programs


Lawmakers and the administration are getting down to the wire when it comes to avoiding a government shutdown. If Congress can't pass a new spending bill by Friday, there will be at least a temporary shutdown.

To put that off for at least another week, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would fund the military for the rest of fiscal year 2011, which ends on Sept. 30. It would fund the rest of the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Education, for just one more week.

And it includes $12 billion in cuts. At least one education program would be eliminated under the measure, the $119 million Teaching American History program. President Barack Obama had proposed consolidating that program into a broader, $246 million funding stream aimed at helping students get a well-rounded education.

The measure would also eliminate the $100 million Educational Technology State Grants programs. And it would slash some smaller programs, including the $1.5 million Emma Byrd scholarship program, and the very tiny Underground Railroad program, which is financed at less than a million.

Joel Packer, edu-funding lobbyist extraordinaire, who works at the Raben Group, said the measure would also cut $186 million in money for the Striving Readers program that was left over from fiscal year 2010. (Read all about the Striving Readers saga here.) He estimates that the measure would cut the Education Department by about $390 million.

Confused? Some background: As you'll probably remember, Congress didn't pass the spending bills for fiscal year 2011, which started way back on Oct. 1, in time. Right now, the feds are operating under a stopgap spending measure financing most programs at fiscal year 2010 levels.

Previous stopgaps also took aim at other education programs, including the $67 million Even Start Family Literacy program, the $88 million Smaller Learning Communities program, and the $250 million Striving Readers program. It appears unlikely that those cuts will be restored anytime soon.

The Obama administration and House Republicans have very different visions for education spending. President Barack Obama has urged Congress to shelter education programs. And in February, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would cut $5 billion from the department's budget, plus another $1 billion from Head Start.

The two sides had reportedly been working together on a compromise measure last week. But it's not clear if a deal can be reached before the Friday deadline.

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