House members attacked the Reagan Administration at a vitriolic hearing today for seeking a 60% cut in drug education funds and recommending that student drug sellers be kicked out of school.
"I'm sure glad to be here after the warm welcome you gave me," Education Secretary William J. Bennett began sarcastically after several members of the House Select Committee on Narcotics had criticized him and his department.
The Administration budget request for $100 million, coming shortly after President Reagan signed the anti-drug bill calling for $250 million, "pains all of us," acting Chairman James H. Scheuer (D-N.Y.) told Bennett.
Panel members noted that $100 million amounts to less than one-half of 1% of the Education Department budget and less than $2 per student enrolled in U.S. schools.
They said schools need curriculum materials, counseling programs and oversight--not just exhortations to crack down on drug users and sellers.
"What we do when we kick the kids out? We put them on the street to become drug peddlers. That's not the solution," said Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R-N.Y.). Better federal leadership is "sorely needed," he said.
"There's a hell of a lot more to leadership than standing up and saying, 'Let's spend other people's money,' " Bennett retorted. But he conceded later: "You'll probably win. It'll probably be $250 million."