Washington Lawmakers on Friday narrowly stripped from their education bill a proposal that would have guaranteed billions of dollars in federal money each year for disabled students.
After nearly three hours of heated debate, the proposal won approval from a Senate education panel but lost 6-8 among a delegation of House members. Special education is among the few issues remaining to be worked out in the education plan, which lawmakers hope to present to President Bush by the end of the year.
The defeat leaves the future of special education funding uncertain. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, presented an alternative funding proposal, but Senate Democrats defeated it.
The Senate last spring approved the special education measure, which would guarantee an annual $2.5 billion increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, specifying that the money be kept safe from the yearly appropriations process.
The Senate measure would have mandated $8.8 billion next year for special education programs; funding would reach just over $21 billion in 2007, the last year of the guaranteed increases. The amendment was sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.