WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats blasted a successful Republican effort to block billions in funding increases for disabled students but say they'll come up with a new proposal this week.
"Congress had found tens of billions of dollars to bail out the airlines, help energy companies and give tax breaks to profitable corporations in the last few months," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. "But when children with special needs show up, we shut the door."
He commented after House Republicans on Friday defeated a proposal that would have guaranteed annual $2.5 billion increases over the next six years in federal funding for special education.
Saying they want to fund the program, GOP lawmakers worried that the money could wind up coming from a program aimed at helping economically disadvantaged children. "Why would we want to pit poor children against disabled children?" said Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Boehner offered an alternative -- $2 billion in additional annual aid, but subject to the annual spending debates that Congress conducts each year. Democrats rejected that.
The clash came on one of a few issues remaining on the education bill, a priority on President Bush's domestic agenda.
The bill is expected to require annual math and reading tests for all students in grades three through eight, with proposals to give federal money for tutoring or transportation to families whose children attend schools with persistently low test scores.
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