TOBACCO SETTLEMENT: Hutchison Amendment a Sticking Point
A House-Senate appropriations conference committee met late into last night, debating the fate of three separate emergency spending measures, one of which includes the amendment by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) that would block the federal government from seizing part of states' tobacco settlements or from mandating how they may spend it. The New York Times reports that the two chambers "remained far apart" after last night's session, with negotiations set to resume this afternoon. Legislators are attempting to roll "into a single piece of legislation" three main bills designed primarily to bolster the NATO airstrikes and provide relief for hurricane victims in Central America. They include a $13 billion House bill, a $1.3 billion House disaster relief bill and the Senate's disaster relief bill, which carries a price tag $1 billion greater. It is this last bill that is most controversial, as it contains several "pet projects" and policy riders, including Hutchison's provision. The bills threaten "to double the money sought by the White House," which has promised to veto "the final measure if it becomes laden with political provender unrelated to war or disaster" (Weiner, 5/12).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.