WASHINGTON -- South Carolina public school teachers will get nothing but a lump of coal this Christmas from the state's congressional delegation.
Congress adjourned late Wednesday without providing $143 million in emergency funds to save 2,600 teaching jobs in South Carolina.
The failure of the state's representatives in Washington to secure the money left S.C. Superintendent of Education Jim Rex searching for answers.
"I'm very disappointed," Rex said Thursday. "All of the members of the delegation said they were not opposed to trying to find a solution, and yet so far no solution has been found."
South Carolina was shortchanged in August when Congress passed a bill providing states $26 billion in Medicaid and public education funds.
South Carolina received its share of the Medicaid funds, but it did not qualify for $143 million for public school teachers. Texas is the only other state to miss out on the funds.
In order to prevent states from using the federal money as substitute funding, Congress set minimum education funding levels that states had to reach in order to qualify for the dollars from Washington.
Previous state budget cuts of $110 million in higher education funding pushed South Carolina below the funding threshold necessary to obtain the emergency federal funds.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican who along with most other GOP members of Congress voted against the original legislation in August, said the measure was flawed.
"Clearly, there were serious technical errors in the bill," said Kevin Bishop, a Graham spokesman. "These should have been corrected by the Democratic-controlled House, Senate and Obama administration before it was signed into law."
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint also voted against the legislation.
"Senator DeMint has consistently opposed the failed federal stimulus spending and teachers' union bailouts that have not created the jobs promised and will leave states with bigger budget shortfalls," said Wesley Denton, a DeMint spokesman.
U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn vowed for months that he would produce a legislative fix to bring South Carolina the $143 million, but the Columbia Democrat could not deliver.
Clyburn said he persuaded House appropriators to include the special clause in several temporary funding bills for the federal government, but he claimed that the fix had stalled in the Senate.
Clyburn accused DeMint of blocking the deal, which the Greenville Republican denied.
Before the 111th Congress drew to a close, lawmakers passed a "continuing resolution" to fund the federal government at 2010 levels through March 4, 2011.
The 112th Congress, dominated more by anti-spending Republicans, will have to pass additional legislation funding the rest of the federal fiscal year through Sept. 30.
With anti-spending Republicans in control of the House and holding more Senate seats, it will be more difficult to get special education funding for South Carolina through Congress.