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NATIONAL POLITICS & POLICY | Senate Labor-HHS Bill Advances in Senate; House Bill Stalls

NATIONAL POLITICS & POLICY | Senate Labor-HHS Bill Advances in Senate; House Bill Stalls
[June 27, 2008]

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a $153.1 billion spending bill that would fund the Labor, HHS and Education departments for fiscal year 2009, CQ Today reports. Committee members voted 26-3 to approve the bill (Wayne, CQ Today, 6/27).

The bill includes a 25% reduction in funding for community-based abstinence-only education programs to $84.8 million for FY 2009. The legislation also would provide $300 million for Title X family planning programs, the same funding level as in FY 2008. The measure also would increase funding for community health centers by $150 million to $2.2 billion. In addition, the measure provides level funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/25).

The appropriations committee on Thursday adopted by voice vote an amendment that would negate a federal directive to state health directors that effectively prohibits states from enrolling children from families earning more than 250% of the federal poverty level into the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The Government Accountability Office has said the directive was illegal, CQ Today reports.

Meanwhile, a House version of the measure stalled Thursday as Republicans tried to force the House Appropriations Committee to vote on an amendment that would expand domestic oil production. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the committee's senior Republican, offered an amendment that would have replaced the text of the Labor-HHS and Education bill with that of the Interior Department funding bill. House Democrats voted to adjourn rather than vote on the amendment. Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) said Republicans were trying to disrupt the appropriations process for political reasons, adding the move was a "filibuster by amendment."

Outlook, Comments
According to CQ Today, the outlook for the measure following the disagreement in the House is uncertain. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said he does not expect the Senate to vote on the measure this summer. In addition, Bush likely would veto the measure because it includes $7.7 billion more in discretionary spending than he requested. Bush has said he will veto any spending bill that exceeds his budget requests, CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 6/27).