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Four Spending Bills Approved by Senate Committee

In a flurry of action this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved four FY2003 appropriations bill—Commerce-Justice-State, Defense, Foreign Operations, and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education.

While the FY2003 military construction bill is the only spending bill to be sent to conference, the House has passed three other bills—Defense, Interior, and Legislative Branch—and two others are ready for floor action—Agriculture and Treasury-Postal. The Senate has not yet scheduled the recently approved spending bills for floor consideration.

The following is a brief summary of the funding levels in each of the four bills. A more detailed summary will be available next week.

Commerce-Justice-State: On July 16, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary approved, by voice vote, its FY2003 spending bill (as-yet-unnumbered). The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill, 28-0, on July 18. Under the measure, $43.475 billion would be provided for discretionary spending, a $2.9 billion increase over FY2002.

The spending bill would level-fund programs under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) at $390.5 million, a $400,000 increase over the President’s request.

In addition, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights would be level-funded at $9.1 million. The spending measure also would provide $317.2 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a $6.8 million increase over the FY2002 level.

Defense: On July 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 29-0, the FY2003 defense spending bill. The bill would provide $355.4 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD) in FY2003, a $35 billion increase over last year and $11.4 billion less than the President requested. The House-passed bill (H.R. 5010) would allocate $354.7 billion.

Both the House-passed and Senate committee-approved spending bills would level-fund peer-reviewed breast cancer and ovarian cancer research at the DoD at $150 million and $10 million, respectively.

The Senate bill would provide $50 million for other peer-reviewed medical research. The committee report lists a number of projects to be funded, including research on bone-related diseases. The House-passed bill provided $1.5 million for bone health research. Last year, Congress allocated $2.8 million for osteoporosis research.

Foreign Operations: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations approved, 28-0, the FY2003 foreign operations spending bill (as-yet-unnumbered) on July 16. Two days later, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the spending measure, by voice vote. The measure would allocate $16.35 billion, a $228 million increase over the President’s request and a $953 million increase over the FY2002 spending bill.

The Senate measure also would provide $450 million for international family planning and reproductive health programs. Congress allocated $446 million for family planning programs in FY2002. An additional $50 million would be provided for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Last year, Congress allocated $34 million for UNFPA; however, that money has not been released by the administration (see The Source, 5/24/02).

Included in the measure is a provision maintaining current law that allows the President to exercise his authority to withhold funds from any country or organization if the President certifies that the funds would be used for the performance of coerced abortions overseas. Also included in the measure is a provision that would repeal the Mexico City policy, which prohibits nongovernmental organizations that use their own funds to perform abortions abroad or to lobby foreign governments on abortion policy from receiving U.S. funds.

Under the measure, $1.78 billion would be provided for the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund, an increase of $346.6 billion over the FY2002 funding level. Of this amount, $350 million would be provided for the Maternal and Child Health Program, $120 million would be provided for the United Nations Children Fund, and $185 million would be provided for infectious diseases. In addition, the foreign operations spending measure would allocate $750 million for global HIV/AIDS programs, of which $200 million would be provided for the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Funding for HIV/AIDS programs would represent a $100 million increase over the President’s request.

Additionally, $157 million would be provided for aid to Afghanistan. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) indicated that she will offer an amendment on the Senate floor that would direct 25 percent of this funding towards programs to educate and improve the health and well-being of Afghan women.

Labor-Health and Human Services-Education: On July 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 29-0, the FY2003 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. The legislation would provide $136.7 billion in discretionary funding in FY2003, a 7 percent increase over last year.

The bill would provide $1.54 billion for dislocated workers, $177.5 million more than last year.

The National Institutes of Health would receive a $3.7 billion increase, $25 million more than the President’s request, to $27.2 billion. Community health centers would be allocated $1.5 billion, a $190 million increase over last year and $75 million more than the President’s request.

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would receive $11.5 billion, a $1.5 billion increase over last year and $500 million more than the President’s request. Additionally, activities to improve teacher quality would be allocated $3.1 billion, a $250 million increase over last year. The President requested level funding.

Special education would receive a $1 billion increase to $8.5 billion, the same amount requested by the President.

Under the Senate bill, the maximum Pell Grant award would be increased from $4,000 to $4,100.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up its version of the bill in September.

Treasury-Postal: On July 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 29-0, the FY2003 Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government appropriations bill (S. 2740). S. 2740 would allocate $18.5 billion in discretionary spending.

S. 2740 maintains current law requiring health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to cover prescription contraceptives if they cover other prescription drugs. Physicians and others who provide contraceptives are exempted from the requirement if they object based on religious beliefs. Religiously affiliated health plans also are exempt. The measure also prohibits abortion coverage under FEHBP except when the life of the mother is endangered or in the case of rape or incest.

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