The House Budget Committee rejected President Bush's fiscal year 1992 budget proposal and adopted instead a Democratic plan that pours more money into education, health, transportation and other programs.
On voice votes that appeared generally to reflect party affiliation, the panel killed Bush's $1.4 trillion budget proposal Tuesday and then approved the Democratic plan drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Leon Panetta, D-Calif. The full House is expected to debate the budget plan next week.The budget resolution has no force of law and is not signed by Bush. Instead, it serves as a guideline for congressional committees on how much should be spent next year. The Senate Budget panel is expected to take up its version of the budget plan later this week.
The House panel also rejected two other GOP budget alternatives that would have controlled spending by more than either the Bush or Panetta budgets. Those plans were killed by lopsided margins.
Rep. Willis Gradison, R-Ohio, ranking Republican on the panel, said the differences between Bush's budget and the one offered by Panetta were "just a very small amount on the margin." He said the Democratic plan called for spending 3.2 percent more on education than Bush's plan and 3.3 percent more on health care programs.
Panetta defended his plan, which shifted $10 billion from Bush's priorities, such as space, to education, health and transportation programs.
"It isn't a small change to the people that are affected," Panetta said.
Among the increases in Panetta's budget proposal are:
- A $2 billion, or 9 percent, increase for education funding - triple the increase proposed in Bush's fiscal year 1992 budget. Additional money was recommended for programs such as student aid, science and math teaching and special, vocational and adult education.
- A quadrupling of Bush's request for the Head Start program. The proposed increase of $350 million would allow the popular preschool program for disadvantaged children to serve 72,000 more kids than it did last year and speed up the timetable for getting all eligible children into the program.
- A $350 million increase for the Women's, Infants and Childrens program - $127 million more than Bush had recommended for the popular and proven nutrition program.
- Big increases for infant mortality programs.
- A 12 percent, or $1.26 billion, increase for anti-drug abuse programs, which is $142 million more than the increase Bush sought in his budget.
- Increases of $1 billion for highways, $281 million for mass transit and $26 million for Amtrak above what Bush requested.