House Passes Spending Bill To Extend Temporary Funding
The House on Wednesday voted 404-14 to pass a stopgap spending bill (HJ Res 52) that would fund at current levels the budgets of Cabinet departments and government agencies until Nov. 16, the AP/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
The Senate is expected to sign the continuing resolution by the end of the week and send it to President Bush (Taylor, AP/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/27).
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, and none of the 12 annual appropriations bills has been signed into law. The House has passed all 12 spending bills, while the Senate has approved four. There have been no conference committees.
The CR also temporarily extends SCHIP as Congress and Bush continue to debate reauthorization and expansion of the program. The House on Tuesday approved SCHIP compromise legislation, but Bush has vowed to veto the measure.
In addition, the CR includes provisions for an additional $5.2 billion for military resources in Iraq and Afghanistan and would continue military funding at current levels. The measure also extends authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs medical care fee collections, the food stamp program and other programs set to expire at the end of the month.
The CR does not include transitional medical assistance for Medicaid beneficiaries who lose eligibility because of changes to their incomes or language to stop a new Medicaid rule requiring tamper-proof prescription pads.
Sources said that adding those provisions would have required budget offsets and that separate measures to address those programs still could be approved (California Healthline, 9/26).
Senate Republicans had planned to offer an amendment that would have automatically continued funding of government programs until Congress completed appropriations work.
However, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said Republicans likely will not offer the amendment because the CR does not contain excessive spending and it adequately funds the military.
House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) during debate on the legislation urged Bush to begin negotiations with Democrats on the 12 appropriations bills.
He said, "I would hope that we could shorten the process by sitting down now with the administration to work out compromises on those bills so that we don't have to spend the next six weeks continuing to define our differences." Bush has threatened to veto individual spending bills because, in total, they contain $23 billion more than the $933 billion he requested for FY 2008 (Clarke, CQ Today, 9/26).
Democrats maintain that the increases for some programs are modest compared to Bush's request for defense spending.
Obey said, "The president would have the country believe that we ... are pouring money into the domestic budget. I would suggest that restoring $16 billion in presidential cuts is mighty small potatoes compared to the $200 billion he wants us to spend in Iraq" (AP/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/27).