U.S. House Falls Short in Vote To Override Vetoed Spending Bill
The House on Wednesday failed to override the veto of a $124.2 billion supplemental appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that included funds for a number of health care programs, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.
The House voted 222-203 to override the veto but fell 62 votes short of the required two-thirds majority (Espo, AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/3).
President Bush on Tuesday vetoed the legislation because of opposition to provisions that called for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008.
The bill would have provided $650 million to address expected budget deficits for the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 14 states. In addition, the legislation would have provided $3.3 billion for Department of Defense health care programs, with $20 million allocated to address problems with facilities at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and $900 million allocated for brain trauma injury and post-traumatic stress disorder research and treatment.
The bill would have provided $50 million to screen rescue and recovery workers who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and to treat medical conditions that they develop because of exposure to toxins released into the atmosphere by the attacks.
The legislation would have provided $625 million to HHS to purchase antiviral medications and vaccines and to invest in technology to accelerate production of vaccines to help prepare for a potential flu pandemic. In addition, the bill would have provided $25 million for a fund established as part of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to compensate individuals injured by vaccines developed in preparation for a potential flu pandemic.
The legislation also would have transferred $99 million from NIH to the office of the HHS secretary to fund research on products to protect against potential bioterrorist attacks.
The bill would have delayed for one year a rule proposed by CMS that would reduce Medicaid reimbursements to health care providers operated by local governments by an estimated $4 billion over five years.
The legislation included a provision that would have required states in which Medicaid providers use written prescription pads to use tamper-resistant pads -- a measure that would have reduced the number of fraudulent prescriptions -- to help offset the cost of the delay.
In addition, the bill included a provision that would have allowed Wisconsin to continue to operate SeniorCare, a prescription drug program for low-income seniors, until Dec. 31, 2009 (California Healthline, 5/2).
In a meeting with Bush on Wednesday, Democratic congressional leaders agreed to exclude domestic spending provisions from a new version of the supplemental appropriations bill until they can reach an agreement with the White House on provisions related to the war in Iraq.
Bush has opposed the inclusion of the domestic spending provisions in the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "I said to the president that it's very clear that the No. 1 issue is Iraq -- don't talk about the other things in this emergency spending bill. Iraq is the issue we must be concerned about."
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said that lawmakers will discuss the domestic spending provisions later in negotiations with the White House (Ferrechio, CQ Today, 5/2).
According to CQ Today, "Democrats have said they are ready to fight" for the inclusion of the domestic spending provisions in the bill (Ferrechio/Clark, CQ Today, 5/2).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Congress should approve the legislation by Memorial Day (Koffler, CongressDaily, 5/3).