Federal Health Spending Bill Lacks Veto-Proof Majority
The House on Thursday is expected to approve a $607 billion fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill "with broad bipartisan support," although lawmakers predicted that it will not receive a veto-proof majority, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 7/19).
The House Appropriations Committee on July 11 by voice vote approved the bill, which includes $151.5 billion in discretionary funds, exceeding FY 2007 discretionary spending by $7 billion and topping President Bush's FY 2008 spending request by $10.6 billion.
The House bill would increase spending on health care for the uninsured by 9% above FY 2007 levels and Bush's request for FY 2008. Funding for the uninsured includes a 10% increase in spending for community health centers. The bill also includes $1.1 billion to prepare for a potential avian flu pandemic. Earmarks in the bill total $565 million -- a 50% reduction from earmarked funds in the appropriations bill that was approved two years ago (California Healthline, 7/12).
Discussing Thursday's expected vote, one Democratic aide said, "I don't know that we're going to get a veto-proof majority on this one."
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) agreed, saying, "I would expect us to maintain a number that will sustain the president's veto on this bill."
CongressDaily reports that the lack of a veto-proof majority "would be a blow for Democrats," but Democratic lawmakers "also see a silver lining in their potential failure to obtain a veto-proof majority, seeing a campaign issue to use against vulnerable Republicans who vote against the bill" (CongressDaily, 7/19).