The Senate Appropriations Committee voted yesterday to permit the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to enforce affirmative action programs for the hiring and admission of women, blacks and minorities by schools, colleges and universities and other institions.
By 4 to 3, the committee stripped a House-passed ban on HEW enforcement of any "ratio, quota or other numerical requirement related to race, creed, color, national origin or sex" from the $54 billion money bill for the Labor and HEW departments.
The vote was one of three major actions taken by congressional committees yesterday on educational issues. In other votes:
The House Government Operations Committee voted 19 to 17 to include the overseas schools schools for dependents of servicemen now run by the Defense Department of Education. These schools have 10,000 employes and an annual budget of $350 million and President Carter has asked that they be shifted to the new department. Rep. John Erlenborn (R-Ill) said the overseas schools depend on the Defense Department for logistical support and might just as well be run by Defense. Jack Brooks (D-Tex), disagreed, saying the transfer would provide better education for the students.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, in a voice vote on the Labor HEW bill, provided $2.1 billion for college grants to low - a and middle income students.President Carter had asked an additional billion for these programs. Senators said there isn't any point voting the extra money until it is decided whether Congress wants to provide middle-income college aid through the grant program, or through the tuition tax-credit method that the president opposes.
The affirmative action vote by the Appropriations Committee was significant in view of the recent controversy, caused by the Bakke medical school admissions case, over use of quotas or targets by colleges and universities attempting to boost the number of minority and women students enrolled. Schools receiving federal funds are forbidden to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color and creed.
HEW says it doesn't use hard-and-fast quotas, but that it does use numerical targets in a effort to help overcome the effects of discrimination.
In the past, HEW has said the difference between the two is that a quota must be met under any circumstances but a target is something which an institution must if the insitution tries but fails to meet the target its federal money won't be withdrawn.
The House acted June 13, on an amendment by Robert S. Walker (R-Pa), banning affirmative action in the HEW bill. The vote was 232 to 177. HEW Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr. said in a letter that the Walker language could handcuff any HEW effort to block discrimination against women, blacks and minoritites in educational programs receiving federal funding.