February 15, 2006
Regula looks for higher spending than Bush proposed
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON - Rep. Ralph Regula on Tuesday asserted that President Bush has not asked for enough spending on education and medical research, and urged a House committee to provide more money as Congress begins to craft the next federal budget.
The administration’s $2.77 trillion spending plan for 2007 would cut spending on schools, health care, medical research and job training — areas of the budget overseen by Regula — by $4 billion.
“I don’t know how we’re going to stretch it to meet what I think are the needs of the future in education,” Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, told the House Budget Committee. “I’m just pleading with you to think about ... the enormous importance of clinical research to the well-being of all of us, and secondly, education.”
Regula said he hoped his appearance before the Budget Committee, which he described as his first ever to ask for funding, would sway the panel to provide more money than the president recommended.
As a senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Regula plays a key role in deciding how billions of dollars in taxes will be spent on federal aid to education, medical research and job training programs.
The total allocation that his appropriations subcommittee receives is based on a number agreed to in a congressional budget resolution that is drawn up by the House and Senate budget committees.
The budget committees are reviewing the Bush proposal and will come up with their own plan.
The administration spending plan would increase overall government spending by 2 percent, while reducing the amount for nondefense, discretionary programs for the second straight year.
Regula expressed support for the president’s goal of halving the federal deficit. But he said Bush still should have kept funding level or even increased funding for his programs.
“I think he should have at least proposed a number that would be equivalent of last year, plus,” he said after his testimony to the Budget Committee.
Under the president’s plan, Regula’s subcommittee would get $137.8 billion for its labor, health and human services, and education bill.
Last year, Congress cut spending in Regula’s bill $1.6 billion below the previous year’s amount.
In order to reduce spending in 2007, the administration has proposed eliminating vocational education grants to states, consolidating job training programs and terminating dozens of other programs that officials say are ineffective.
The Bush plan would keep funding level for the National Institutes of Health, a medical research institution that has seen its budget doubled since the late 1990s.
Bush has proposed increases in some areas, including more than $500 million to strengthen math and science education.