House Approves Budget Package With Health, Veterans Care Spending
The House on Tuesday voted 269-142 to pass a $215.4 billion budget package that includes the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education (HR 3043) and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (HR 2642) appropriations bills, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports (Taylor, AP/Arizona Daily Star, 11/7).
The package includes $150.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Labor-HHS-Education bill and $64.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Military Construction-VA bill (California Healthline, 11/6).
President Bush on Tuesday reiterated his threat to veto the package (Pulizzi, Dow Jones, 11/6). The House did not pass the package by the two-thirds margin required to override a presidential veto. According to the AP/Daily Star, the combination of the two bills into one package "solidified GOP opposition to the bill, as 47 Republicans voted for it -- six fewer than when an earlier version passed the House in July" -- with support for the legislation "certain to unravel further in the Senate, where Republicans were poised to use the rules to cleave the measure in two, setting the health and education bill on course to be vetoed by Bush without the veterans' money attached" (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 11/7).
The Senate plans to address the package on Wednesday. Under a budget point of order established this year, senators can eliminate provisions in a conference report that did not appear in bills passed by either the House or Senate. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) plans to raise a point of order as early as Thursday. Senate Democrats would require 60 votes to override the point of order (Cohn , CongressDaily, 11/6).
Senate "Republicans are expected to successfully separate" the bills in the package, according to the Los Angeles Times (Simon, Los Angeles Times, 11/6). In such a case, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Congress first would send Bush the Labor-HHS-Education bill (Wayne, CQ Today, 11/6).
In other budget news, House and Senate conferees on Tuesday agreed to attach a second continuing resolution that would fund Cabinet departments and federal agencies at current levels until Dec. 14 to the FY 2008 Defense appropriations bill (HR 3222), with approval of the legislation expected later this week (Clarke, CQ Today, 11/6).
The fiscal year began on Oct. 1, and Cabinet departments and federal agencies since that time have operated on a CR scheduled to expire on Nov. 16. According to individuals familiar with the situation, federal agencies have received instructions to plan to operate on CRs through Feb. 15.
Democrats to date have not sent Bush any of the 12 FY 2008 appropriations bills, at least 10 of which he has threatened to veto (California Healthline, 11/6).