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Agriculture Spending Bill Headed to President

The House approved the conference report for the FY2001 agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 4461) on October 11 by a vote of 340-75. At press time, the Senate was debating the conference report. A final vote is expected to occur on October 18.

The final measure would provide $4.1 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the same amount provided by the Senate, $7 million less than the House, and $20 million more than FY2000. Under the bill, child nutrition programs would receive $9.5 billion, the same amount provided by both the House and Senate. In FY2000, child nutrition programs were appropriated $9.6 billion. Senior citizens meal programs would receive $150 million in FY2001. That represents $10 million less than appropriated by the House, and $10 million more than the Senate and FY2000.

A House-passed provision that would allow funding in the bill to be used to carry out research on medical, biotechnology, food, and industrial uses of tobacco was included in the final agreement. During floor debate, Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) cited a research project underway at North Carolina State and Georgetown Universities that is using a genetically modified version of the tobacco plant to develop a vaccine to prevent infection by human papillomavirus, the primary cause of cervical cancer.

A Senate-passed provision that would express the sense of the Senate that nonprofit organizations providing transitional housing to victims of domestic violence be given preference in purchasing homes that are in default through the Rural Housing Service was not included in the final measure. However, the conference report states that the Rural Housing Service “should work with other public agencies and organizations to provide transitional housing for individuals and families who are homeless as a result of domestic violence.”

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