Amendment Slows House Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill
House action on the Labor-HHS FY 2002 appropriations bill (HR 3061) "slowed" yesterday after the Rules Committee agreed to allow a vote on an amendment to ban funding of school-based health clinics that offer emergency contraception, CongressDaily/AM reports. Though a bipartisan agreement in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was intended to avoid "discord" among legislators, Rules Committee Chair David Dreier (R-Calif.) said that Rep. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.), who sponsored the amendment, "had been promised a future vote" on the measure after she agreed not to offer it as an amendment to an education bill last spring. Debate on the bill is expected to begin today. Meanwhile, the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday reported its version of the legislation, and the full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up the bill today.
The Senate and House measures both contain $123 billion in discretionary spending, but distribute it in different ways, CongressDaily/AM reports. The "biggest difference" between the two bills is funding for the NIH. While the Senate bill would increase funding by $3.4 billion over five years, the House bill "hike[s]" funding by $2.6 billion. The "extra" funding in the Senate bill accounts for spending cuts made in FY 2001 budgeting, CongressDaily/AM reports. With the Senate spending more on NIH, fewer funds were available for other health care programs and education, which the House bill increased by 17%. The bills also differ on stem cell research (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 10/11). The Senate bill would allow President Bush -- who announced on Aug. 9 that the federal government would limit funding for embryonic stem cell research to stem cell lines derived before that date -- to allow broader funding if he chose. The provision states that Bush could "follow through on his proposal to restrict the research" to the lines included under his guidelines, or he could choose to fund research conducted on embryos that "otherwise would be destroyed." Such research would require the permission of the couple who underwent the fertility treatments to create the embryo (AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/11). The House bill would not change Bush's policy (Fram, Associated Press, 10/11).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.