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Congress Approves Continuing Appropriations, Disaster Relief Bill

On September 24, the House approved, 370-58, H.R. 2638, a bill to provide continuing appropriations for the nine spending bills not yet enacted by Congress and FY2008 supplemental appropriations for disaster relief and recovery, and enact the FY2009 military, national security, and defense-related spending bills. The Senate passed H.R. 2638 on September 27 by a vote of 78-12. 

Continuing Appropriations 

The bill would extend until March 6, 2009, current FY2008 funding levels for the Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; Energy and Water; Financial Services and General Government; Interior and Environment; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Legislative Branch; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development spending bills (see The Source, 8/1/08;The Source, 7/11/08; The Source, 6/27/08; The Source, 6/20/08; and The Source, 6/13/08, for coverage of previous congressional action).

In addition, the bill would provide $6.658 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). In order to prevent funding cuts midway through the school year, the bill would allocate $16.8 billion for the Pell Grant program.

Defense 

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense approved its version of the FY2009 spending bill (as-yet-unnumbered) on July 30 (see The Source, 8/1/08). The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense approved its bill (as-yet-unnumbered) on September 10 (see The Source, 9/12/08). 

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee summary, the bill would allocate $487.7 billion for FY2009 for discretionary defense spending, $28.4 billion over FY2008 and $4 billion less than the president’s request. Included in that amount is $100 million for family advocacy programs, dependents’ education, and child care. 

The bill would provide $25.8 billion for defense health programs, including $150 million for breast cancer research; $20 million for ovarian cancer research; $40 million for the Centers of Excellence at Walter Reed Medical Center in Breast Care, Gynecologic, Prostate, Pain and Neuroscience, and Integrated Cardiac Health; and $16 million for peer-reviewed cancer research. 

Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs, and Related Agencies 

The House approved its FY2009 Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs spending bill (H.R. 6599) on August 1 (see The Source, 8/1/08). The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill (S. 3301) on July 17 (see The Source, 7/18/08). 

According to the House Appropriations Committee summary, the bill would provide $72.9 billion for military construction and veterans-related programs in FY2009, $9 billion over FY2008 and $3.6 billion over the president’s request. Included in that amount is $3.2 billion to “eliminate inadequate military housing.” This amount is $292 million over FY2008, but $29 million less than the administration’s request. 

Homeland Security 

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved its FY2009 spending bill, H.R. 6947, on June 24; the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee approved its version of the bill, S. 3181, on June 19. 

The bill would appropriate $39.98 billion for national security programs in FY2009, $2.31 billion over FY2008 and $2.36 billion over the president’s request. Included in this amount is $2.366 million for the Secret Service for forensic and related support in investigations of missing and exploited children, as well as a $6 million grant for such activities.

Disaster Relief 

H.R. 2638 would provide $22.9 billion for disaster relief and recovery for communities affected by Hurricanes Ike, Gustav, Katrina, and Rita, as well as communities affected by flooding earlier this spring. In addition, the measure would allocate $100 million in international food assistance for Caribbean countries affected by Hurricane Gustav and individuals affected by the conflict in the Republic of Georgia.

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