House Gives Final Approval to Budget, Sends to President
The House on Wednesday voted 272-142 to approve a $555 billion omnibus budget package that includes the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill and the 10 other unapproved FY 2008 appropriations bills, as well as $11.2 billion in emergency funds and $70 billion in additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, CQ Today reports (Clarke/Higa, CQ Today, 12/19).
The Labor-HHS-Education section of the package includes $600.1 billion in total spending and $145.1 billion in discretionary spending (California Healthline, 12/19).
The package in large part meets the overall spending levels of $932.8 billion requested by President Bush, who threatened to veto any proposal that exceeded his request (Clarke/Higa, CQ Today, 12/19). As a result, Democrats had to reduce the amount of overall spending they had sought by $17.5 billion and on average provided less than a 3% increase in domestic spending over FY 2007 (Cohn, CongressDaily, 12/20).
For example, the package includes an increase in funds for research at NIH that does not meet the rate of inflation. However, the package also shifts billions of dollars to priorities supported by Democrats, such as health care for veterans.
One hundred ninety-four Republicans and 78 Democrats voted in favor of the package. Most Democrats voted against the package because of the funds for the wars (Simon/Levey, Los Angeles Times, 12/20). The package now moves to Bush, who is expected to sign the proposal (AP/Baltimore Sun, 12/20).
The House and Senate adjourned the first session of the 110th Congress on Wednesday, and Democratic leaders listed their accomplishments, discussed their priorities for next year and criticized Republicans for "opposition that repeatedly forced them to scale back their agenda" on health care and other issues, CongressDaily reports (Schneider/Bourge, CongressDaily, 12/20).
In this session, Democrats passed legislation to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. However, Bush vetoed the bill. Democrats also passed legislation to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program but failed to override a presidential veto despite support from a large number of Republicans (Weisman/Kane, Washington Post, 12/20).
Next year, Democrats plan to make health care a priority, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "The biggest issue (in 2008) will be health care," she said (Schneider/Bourge, CongressDaily, 12/20). She cited the need to increase funds for research at NIH, begin to adopt a national electronic health record system and ensure that all U.S. residents have "universally accessible, personalized care" (Epstein, CQ Today, 12/19).