Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined Senate Democrats on Wednesday in warning of dire effects on American schools and colleges if Congress cannot reach agreement on a way to avoid across-the-board budget cuts set for January.
Some $1.2-billion in threatened cuts, known as sequestration, are scheduled under an agreement last August by Congress to force down the size of the federal budget deficit. Along with deep cuts in federal aid to local schools that could cost 15,000 teaching jobs, the effects on higher education would include the loss of about 2,200 research grants and snarls in the processing of federal student aid, Mr. Duncan told a Senate hearing.
"Essentially we're playing chicken with the lives of the American people," the secretary told lawmakers at the hearing, held by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health, and education issues.
The subcommittee's chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat of Iowa, issued his own report at the hearing, a 180-page tally of the specific effects Congress can expect if it does not find an alternative to the sequestration cuts.
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