House Passes $123 Billion Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill
The House yesterday approved $123 billion in discretionary spending on health, education and labor programs for this fiscal year, an almost $14 billion increase from last year, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The 373-43 vote to pass the FY 2002 Labor-HHS appropriations bill, which followed unanimous approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee of a similar version of the bill, came after members of both parties agreed to "withhold contentious amendments to speed work on a measure that traditionally sees testy battles over" such issues as abortion. Including entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, the total cost of the House bill is $396 billion (Fram, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/12). Under the House bill, HHS discretionary spending would increase by nearly $3.9 billion, an 8% rise that is $1.48 billion more than initially requested by President Bush. While the overall cost of the bill is $6.8 billion more than Bush requested, the Wall Street Journal reports that the administration is "generally supportive" of the increased spending (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 10/12). The measure also includes $393 million for counter-bioterrorism efforts, $100 million more than last year.
Most of the controversy surrounding House passage of the Labor-HHS bill centered around funding of abstinence-only education -- a "relatively small program" within HHS (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/12). The final bill provides $40 million for abstinence-only education, twice the amount allocated for FY 2001, but conservative House members sought to raise that figure to $73 million by transferring $33 million from the CDC budget. The White House endorsed the increase, but the House voted 311-106 to reject the transfer after "critics argued that any reduction at the CDC would jeopardize public health programs and the war against bioterrorism" (Wall Street Journal, 10/12). Yesterday, the "final hurdle" to passage of the bill in the House was "cleared" when Rep. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.) withdrew an amendment to bar federal funding to schools that dispensed emergency contraception to minors (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/12).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.