Senate Sends Budget Package To House; Veterans Bill Held
The Senate on Wednesday voted 56-37 to pass a $606 billion fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education bill (HR 3043) after Republicans used a rule established earlier this year to separate the legislation from a $65 billion FY 2008 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (HR 2642) appropriations bill, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Faler, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/8).
House and Senate conferees sent the bills to the Senate floor in a package that included $150.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Labor-HHS-Education bill and $64.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Military Construction-VA bill. However, under a budget point of order established this year, senators can eliminate provisions in a conference report that did not appear in bills passed by either the House or Senate (California Healthline, 11/7).
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on Wednesday raised the point of order to separate the bills (Jansen, CQ Today, 11/7). Senate Democrats required 60 votes to override the point of order, but their effort to prevent the separation of the bills failed on a 46-47 vote along party lines (Raju, The Hill, 11/8).
The Labor-HHS-Education bill moves to the House for consideration (Taylor, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/7). The House on Tuesday approved the package that included both bills but must pass the Labor-HHS-Education bill a second time because the Senate separated the bills.
The House likely will approve the Labor-HHS-Education bill on Thursday or Friday, after which the legislation moves to President Bush for consideration (Clarke, CQ Today, 11/7). Bush has threatened to veto the bill because the legislation exceeds his request for discretionary spending by $9 billion (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/2).
According to Roll Call, "it remains unclear how Democrats will proceed" with the Military Construction-VA bill, but they might consider "not moving the bill until at least mid-December in order to keep the measure as leverage with the White House." However, House and Senate conferees might begin negotiations on the bill as early as next week (Stanton/Pierce, Roll Call, 11/8). Bush has said that he would sign the bill, although the legislation exceeds his request for discretionary spending by about $4 billion (Cohn, CongressDaily, 11/8).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.