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Commerce-Justice-State and D.C. Spending Bills Bundled and Approved by House

The House cleared the FY2001 Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 4690) as part of the FY2001 District of Columbia (D.C.) appropriations (H.R. 4942) conference report. The House approved, 206-198, the measure on October 26. The Senate is expected to consider the conference report early next week; however, the President has issued a veto threat due to immigration provisions included in the Commerce-Justice-State bill.

Under the final measure, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) would receive $750,000 and Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) would receive $12 million. The House bill provided $1 million for the NWBC and $13 million for WBCs. The Senate bill level-funded the NWBC and WBCs at $600,000 and $9 million respectively. Additionally, the final bill would provide $694,000 for the survey of women-owned businesses, the same amount provided by the Senate. The survey received $790,000 last year.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs would receive a $4 million increase to $288 million. Of that amount, $31.625 million would be for civil legal assistance; $5.2 million for research on violence against women; $11 million for violence on college campuses; $11.5 million for Court Appointed Special Advocates; $2 million for training for judicial personnel; $1 million for grants for televised testimony; $34 million for grants to encourage arrest policies; $25 million for rural domestic violence programs; and $5 million for training programs. The House bill would have level-funded VAWA programs at $284 million, while the Senate bill provided $284.9 million.

The Legal Services Corporation would receive $330 million in FY2001, a $25 million increase over last year. The House bill provided $275 million, while the Senate bill provided $300 million.

Under the final bill, juvenile justice programs would receive $299 million, an increase above the $287 million appropriated in FY2000. The House would have level-funded juvenile justice programs, while the Senate would have provided a $7 million decrease.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would receive $304 million, a $22 million increase over last year. The House bill provided $291 million.

The final bill would maintain the current prohibition on the use of funds for abortions at federal prisons. Current law includes an exception if the pregnancy is the result of rape or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. The Bureau of Prisons is required to provide transportation to female inmates to obtain abortion services outside the prison.

District of Columbia
The final bill would maintain current law with respect to the prohibition on the use of local and federal funds for abortion coverage for low-income women on Medicaid, implementation of a voter referendum approving the medicinal use of marijuana, and implementation of health benefits for domestic partners of D.C. employees. Exceptions for abortion coverage are made in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Additionally, the final bill would retain current law, which prohibits the use of local and federal funds to implement needle exchange programs. While the House committee-approved bill would have prohibited the use of federal funds, the House adopted, 239-181, an amendment by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), to prohibit the use of both federal and District funds for such programs.

Additionally, a modified version of a House-passed provision to curtail the distribution of needles is included in the final agreement. As passed by the House, the provision, sponsored by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), would have prohibited the distribution of needles in conjunction with a needle exchange program within 1,000 feet of programs serving children or young adults. The final version would prohibit the distribution of needles within 1,000 feet of public elementary and secondary schools.

A House-passed provision, sponsored by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), to prohibit the possession of tobacco by minors was included in the final bill. The bill would provide $100,000 to the D.C. police department to enforce the ban.

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