On July 10, the Senate approved, 98-1, its version of the FY2001 supplemental spending bill (S. 1077), sending it to conference with the House bill (H.R. 2166). Both bills would provide $6.5 billion in supplemental defense funding and disaster assistance. Additionally, both bills would provide $116 million to enable the Treasury Department to mail out tax rebates as provided under the new tax law (P.L. 107-16) and $161 million for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The Senate-passed bill includes $100 million to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis worldwide. During debate on the measure, the Senate tabled, 79-20, an amendment by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) that would have increased funding for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis prevention and treatment programs to $593 million. The amendment would have been offset by reducing funding for a Navy aircraft program.
Referring to the offset, Sen. Feingold stated, “Over the last 2 decades, HIV/AIDS has infected 60 million people, killed more than 20 million people, slashed life expectancies, and has left millions of orphans in its wake. We now know to a certainty the national security reality of the AIDS pandemic. But even after 20 years of research, development, and testing, we still don’t know if the V-22 Osprey will work.”
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) opposed the amendment saying, “In 1983, at my request, we started the Army’s infectious disease section to determine whether there could be a cure for AIDS or prevention of its transmission. Since that time, we have spent more money than all the world put together in trying to defeat AIDS. The way to help our great friends in Africa is to find a way to cure AIDS but not to take money from a system that needs protection under the Department of Defense.”
The Senate also rejected, 3-94, an amendment by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) that would have repealed the newly enacted tax cuts for 2001 and transferred the funding to defense and education programs.
Arguing for his amendment, Sen. Hollings said, “It is time we sober up and stop spending money we don’t have. Everybody is talking about paying down the debt, paying down the debt. A vote against this is to increase the debt. I am saying let’s hold the tax schedule where it is and, in short, do away with the rebate because it is not going to do any good.”
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) countered, “The retroactive, new…bracket is the basis, then, for the advanced refund checks of $300 for single people and $600 for married couples that will soon be mailed out by the Treasury Department starting July 23. So the Hollings amendment, then, would stop these checks dead in their tracks. A vote for the Hollings amendment is a way to say no to American taxpayers who now expect to receive the refund checks.”
Two other amendments that would have protected the Social Security and Medicare surpluses were defeated on procedural votes.