Vice President Mondale pressed the House Government Operators Committee yesterday for speedy action to create a department of education, but opponents continued their stalling tactics and blocked a final committee vote.
In a letter to the bill's supporters on the committee, Mondale said that "creating a department of education this year is an important priority of our administration." On behalf of himself and President Carter, Mondale said "the new department is badly needed" to "improve management" of education programs, to "assure education its proper place" within the Cabinet and to "improve responsiveness" to education needs. He said education shouldn't be buried within the massive Department of Health, Education and Welfare, as it is now.
However, Rep. John N. Erlenborn (R-III) and other opponents yesterday continued to employ what Erlenborn conceded last week was "filibuster by amendment." They hope to delay the bill so long that, even if the committee does approve it, there won't be time for House floor action this year.
Erlenborn offered several minor amendments and forced roll calls repeatedly, even when it was clear from the voice vote that a proposal was overwhelmingly opposed by a majority of the committee.
The committee rejected 18 to 12 an amendment by Rep. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) to include Bureau of Indian Affairs education programs ($271 million a year) in the new department.
Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Tex.), said, "They're printing up amendments as fast as they can" and added that, in view of the opponents' tactics, "it's going to be tough" to get the bill out of committee this week.
Brooks also said that even though the House Rules Committee's Aug. 11 deadline on requests for clearance of bills for future floor action had passed, if the committee approves the bill this week he thinks the leadership can get it to the floor next month. Brooks said he had written the Rules Committee to say the bill should be finished soon.
Erlenborn, Quayle and other conservative critics oppose the bill for fear it will lead to federal domination of local and state education programs. Some labor unions and minority speokesmen also are opposed, on grounds it will fragment their lobbying influence and tear apart education from related social welfare programs in HEW.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee has approved the Carter request for establishment of a department of education.