White House Opposes Health Funds in War Spending Bill
White House spokesperson Tony Snow on Wednesday said that President Bush would veto a supplemental appropriations bill (HR 2206) for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, in part because the legislation includes funds for health care and other nonmilitary programs, CQ Today reports (Higa, CQ Today, 5/9).
Bush on May 1 vetoed a previous version of the bill because of opposition to provisions that called for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008, as well as the inclusion of funds for nonmilitary programs. The House on May 2 failed to override the veto (California Healthline, 5/3).
The new version of the bill, which the House likely will approve on Thursday, initially would provide $42.8 billion in funds for military operations, which would last two to three months, and would require a separate vote in July to provide an additional $52.8 billion.
The legislation includes funds for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CQ Today, 5/9). In addition, the bill would provide $663 million for pandemic flu preparedness (Berger, CQ HealthBeat, 5/9).
Snow said that Bush opposes the restrictions on the funds for military operations included in the bill and the inclusion of "spending items that were mentioned in the first veto message" (CQ Today, 5/9). He added, "The bill ... contains elements of the bill the president vetoed already, and, if it were to come back to his desk, it would be vetoed."
White House counsel Dan Bartlett said that the bill would have to "fundamentally change to receive the president's signature" (Koffler/Kivlan, CongressDaily, 5/9).
"Despite Snow's admonitions and Republican opposition" to the bill, "Congress is not necessarily headed for another veto showdown," CQ Today reports.
House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.), who drafted the bill with House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chair John Murtha (D-Pa.), remains in negotiations with the White House in an effort to reach an agreement on the legislation.
The Senate has not scheduled a floor vote on a new version of the supplemental appropriations bill, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) remain in negotiations with the White House (CQ Today, 5/9).
In other budget news, House and Senate conferees on Thursday plan to begin final negotiations on the fiscal year 2008 budget resolution (Cohn, CongressDaily, 5/10).
The House in March voted 216-210 to approve a $2.9 trillion resolution that would require Congress to offset increased funds for Medicare, SCHIP and other health care programs with tax increases or spending reductions. The resolution exceeds the amount Bush requested for discretionary spending by more than $24 billion and exceeds the amount of the Senate version of the resolution by about $7 billion (California Healthline, 3/30).