Increased Funding for NIH, Veterans Health Approved by House
The House on Wednesday voted 286-140 to approve a $463.5 billion fiscal year 2007 omnibus appropriations bill that includes increased funds for NIH, health care for veterans and other health programs, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Taylor, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/31).
The 109th Congress last year approved two of 11 FY 2007 appropriations bills and passed a continuing resolution to fund most federal agencies at FY 2006 levels until Feb. 15. Late last year, incoming House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) and incoming Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said that they would complete the other FY 2007 appropriations bills through an omnibus appropriations bill and focus on FY 2008 appropriations bills.
The omnibus appropriations bill -- which would fund most federal agencies until Sept. 30, the end of FY 2007 -- would increase funds for NIH by $619 million over FY 2006 levels (California Healthline, 1/31). The legislation also would increase funds for health care for veterans by $3.6 billion (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/31). In addition, the legislation would increase funds for health education and education programs by $2.3 billion and funds for community health centers by $207 million (California Healthline, 1/31).
More than 25% of Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the continuing resolution, although some Republicans "protested that the bill was not entirely stripped of special-interest funding, or earmarks, as the Democratic leaders asserted, and that they were denied the opportunity to offer amendments," the Washington Post reports. The Senate must pass the legislation by Feb. 15 to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government, and the White House has indicated that President Bush would sign it (Kane, Washington Post, 2/1).
The Senate is expected to approve the bill, but Senate Democratic leaders will have more difficulty limiting proposed amendments from Republicans, CQ Today reports.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not indicated whether he will fill an "amendment tree," a move that essentially would block the consideration of the amendments. That prospect "has angered some Republicans," CQ Today reports.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said, "We can't do much now, but there is going to be a significant price to pay if that's how they are going to do it."
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said, "I personally am offended that they are going to fill the tree on the CR."
Sens. Stevens and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) are expected propose amendments restoring funding for military base closures and realignment. Amendment approval would require either the House to pass the legislation again or the Senate and House to negotiate a compromise (CQ Today, 1/31).