Motion To Force Final Vote on Omnibus Spending Bill Fails in Senate
The Senate on Tuesday blocked an $820 billion omnibus appropriations bill (HR 2673), which combines seven appropriations bills that remain for fiscal year 2004, after a motion that would have ended a filibuster and forced a final vote on the legislation failed to receive the 60 votes required for approval, the Washington Times reports. The Senate voted 48-45 in favor of the motion (Fagan, Washington Times, 1/21). Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined 39 Democrats and one independent in opposition to the motion. Opponents of the omnibus bill have raised concerns about provisions on media company ownership, overtime rules and nation-of-origin labels on meat and produce. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said that Democrats hope to amend and pass the legislation by the end of the month. "Our desire isn't to kill this bill. Our desire is to give them a chance to fix it," Daschle said.
However, Senate Republicans said that they would not amend the legislation, which a conference committee approved last year and the House passed in December. "We are not changing this bill, period. ... It's either going to be voted up or down," Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said. Republicans also said that they would "push through" a resolution that would fund the affected federal agencies and programs at FY 2003 levels in the event that Democrats did not end the filibuster, the New York Times reports. They said that such a resolution could result in billions of dollars lost for medical research, health care for veterans, a proposal from President Bush to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean and other programs (Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 1/21). In addition, such a resolution would result in $50 million lost for influenza research and efforts to combat mad cow disease (Washington Times, 1/21). The omnibus bill also includes increased funds for Medicare, Medicaid and child nutrition programs (American Health Line, 12/9/03). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said, "The time has come to pass this legislation and to move forward into next year's budget" (Washington Times, 1/21).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.