Agreement Reached on Federal Budget With Increased Health Funds
The House on Wednesday likely will pass a $463.5 billion fiscal year 2007 omnibus appropriations bill that includes increased funds for NIH, health care for veterans and other health programs, CQ Today reports (Dennis/Higa, CQ Today, 1/30). The 109th Congress last year approved two of 11 FY 2007 appropriations bills and passed a continuing resolution to fund most federal agencies at FY 2006 levels until Feb. 15.
Late last year, House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said that they would complete the other FY 2007 appropriations bills through an omnibus appropriations bill and focus on FY 2008 appropriations bills. The omnibus appropriations bill -- which would fund most federal agencies until Sept. 30, the end of FY 2007 -- would increase funds for NIH by $619 million over FY 2006 levels.
In addition, the legislation would increase funds for health care for veterans by $4.4 billion, funds for health education and education programs by $2.3 billion and funds for community health centers by $207 million (American Health Line, 1/30).
House and Senate leaders reached an agreement on the bill on Tuesday (Layton, Washington Post, 1/31). The Bush administration "has signaled its embrace" of the bill, a move that makes enactment more likely, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.
However, a number of House Republicans likely will oppose the omnibus appropriations bill, in part because Democratic leaders will not allow amendments (Taylor, AP/ San Jose Mercury News, 1/31).
House Appropriations Committee ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) on Tuesday asked Republicans to oppose the legislation over concerns that Democratic leaders did not allow adequate debate.
According to CongressDaily, "Lewis' stance on the bill puts rank-and-file Republicans ... in a bind" because of political difficulties they might face for their opposition to legislation that would increase funds for health and education programs. "Lewis might pull about three-quarters of the Republican conference with him," but the bill "is almost certain to pass," CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 1/31).
Obey "blamed the Republicans for making the expedited procedures necessary," the Los Angeles Times reports. "I don't love this proposal, and we probably have made some wrong choices," Obey said, adding, "But in contrast to last year's Congress, which decided to duck these choices, at least we have made them in order to bring last year's issues to a conclusion" (Havemann, Los Angeles Times, 1/31).
Senate Republicans have said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) likely will schedule debate on the omnibus appropriations bill close to Feb. 15, when the CR expires, to allow limited opportunities for amendments, the AP/Mercury News reports (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 1/31). Reid said that he has not decided whether to allow Republicans to introduce amendments to the legislation. "We have to complete this ... or the government closes down," Reid said, adding, "I'm not going to be Mr. Nice Guy on this" (CQ Today, 1/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.