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House and Senate Rush to Complete Spending Bills Before August Recess

Continuing the effort to complete all 13 FY2004 appropriations bills before the August recess, the Senate this week approved the Defense spending bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee considered the following spending bills: Agriculture, District of Columbia, Energy-Water, and Foreign Operations. The House approved the Agriculture and Interior spending bills. The House Appropriations Committee passed the following spending bills: Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary, District of Columbia, Energy-Water, Foreign Operations, and VA-HUD.

Senate Floor Action

Defense

After four days of debate, the Senate passed, 95-0, the FY2004 Defense spending bill (H.R. 2658). The text of S. 1382, as passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 9 (see The Source, 7/11/03), was substituted for the House bill.

H.R. 2658 would allocate $368.7 billion in FY2004, a $13.6 billion increase over the FY2003. The total is $3 billion less than the President’s request as a result of a deal struck between Congress and the Administration to shift that money towards domestic spending bills.

Several women’s health research programs would be funded under the bill: $150 million for breast cancer research and $10 million for ovarian cancer research. Both breast cancer research and ovarian cancer research would be level-funded.

The bill would provide $6.733 million for military HIV research. In the report accompanying the bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee commends the Center of Excellence for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance for its participation in “HIV/AIDS advocacy, awareness and prevention activities with foreign militaries and international peacekeepers in the Asia Pacific region, and encourages its continued participation as a means of promoting national security interests.”

During consideration of H.R. 2658, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) offered an amendment that would have transferred $1.1 billion provided for defense procurement and research to HIV/AIDS prevention activities. A motion to table the amendment was agreed to, 71-24.

The bill also would provide $50 million for a Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. Osteoporosis and bone-related disease research is one of many projects that could be included in the program. In addition, the committee recommends that the Department of Defense “support research which will lead to improved bone health and enhance military readiness by reducing the incidence of stress fractures during physically intensive duty. Findings that will emanate from DOD research efforts will not only assist our active duty forces, but also will help prevent, diagnose and treat those with debilitating bone disease.”

Finally, the committee notes that there “is a lack of communications available to family members of active duty military personnel who are deployed out of the United States.” For this reason, the committee encourages the Department of the Army to initiate a program known as Project HomeLink that would improve “the morale and welfare of deployed military personnel by providing a portable and easy to use e-mail system to the family members of those on active duty.”

The House and Senate will meet later this year in a conference committee to work out the differences in the two bills.

Senate Committee Action

Agriculture

On July 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 29-0, the FY2004 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (S. 1427). The subcommittee approved the measure on July 15. As in the legislation (H.R. 2673) passed by the House on July 14, the bill would allocate $17.005 billion in FY2004, an $872 million decrease from FY2003 and one percent less than the President’s request.

The measure would provide $4.639 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a $95 million decrease below FY2003 and $168 million less than the President’s request. The recommendation includes a $150 million reserve fund should program costs or participation exceed estimates. The recommended funding level for WIC would include $10 million for breastfeeding support initiatives and $5 million for a childhood obesity pilot project.

Child nutrition programs would receive $11.4 billion in FY2004, an $820 million increase above FY2003 and $18 million less than the level requested by the President. As requested by the President, S. 1427 would provide $6.683 million for the school lunch program, $1.797 million for the school breakfast program, and $2.019 million for the child and adult care food program.

Other funding levels include $1.6 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), $226 million above FY2003 and $205 million more than the President’s request; $1.323 billion for the Food for Peace Program, $380 million less than FY2003 and $138 million above the President’s request; and $25 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

The committee report accompanying S. 1427 states that the committee “believes that it is important for FDA to pay sufficient attention to gender-based research, ensuring that products approved by the FDA are safe and effective for women as well as men.” The committee further notes that $3.075 million is provided for the Office of Women’s Health at the FDA and “encourages FDA to ensure that the Office of Women’s Health is sufficiently funded to carry out its activities, and to enhance its funding if necessary.”

In addition, S. 1427 estimated $16.576 million in Mammography Quality Standards Act fee collections, $424,000 less than the President’s budget.

Foreign Operations

During the same mark-up session, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 29-0, the FY2004 Foreign Operations spending bill (S. 1426). The bill would allocate $18.1 billion in FY2004, $1.9 billion more than FY2003 and $1 billion more than the House Appropriations Committee approved on June 16, but $796 million less than the President’s request.

Under the measure, $1.37 billion would be provided for HIV/AIDS prevention activities, including $250 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, $700 million for the new Global AIDS Initiative, $500 million from the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund, and $150 million for the International Mother and Child HIV Prevention program. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that he plans to offer an amendment to increase funding for HIV/AIDS prevention activities during full Senate consideration.

The committee report accompanying S. 1426 states that the committee “is aware that women comprise half of the HIV infections in the world, and that the typical woman who is infected has only one partner, her husband,” and further adds that “microbicides that are under development could play a major role in protecting women from HIV.” For this reason, the committee has included $22 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for microbicide research and development.

In addition, the bill would provide $1.4 billion for the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund, a decrease of $400 million below FY2003 and $179 million less than the President’s request.

The report notes that the committee “is aware that pregnancy-related deaths exceed 600,000 annually, most of which are preventable,” and “believes that far more should be done to address this urgent need.” For this reason, the committee recommends “at least $75 million for maternal health activities and that additional funding be made available specifically to reduce pregnancy-related deaths.”

The FY2004 foreign operations spending bill also would allocate $1.4 billion in development assistance for USAID, $60 million above the budget request. S. 1426 would provide $15 million for USAID’s Office of Women in Development. In addition, the committee “supports the mission of Women’s Campaign International (WCI), which works to enhance the status of women through media, leadership, business, organizational, and public service training in developing countries.” The bill would provide $2.5 million for WCI in FY2004.

Committee language states “that integrated approaches to health, family planning, and environmental conservation are necessary to address the needs of communities where biodiversity and endangered species are threatened.” For this reason, the committee “supports the efforts of USAID’s Office of Population to support family planning in these areas, and expects USAID to invest other global health, environment and sustainable agriculture funds in the appropriate components of integrated population-health-environment programs.”

International family planning programs would receive $445 million, $2 million less than FY2003 and $20 million more than the President’s request.

S. 1426 would provide $600 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. Report language states that the committee “remains concerned with the situation of Afghan women, who suffered extreme hardships under the Taliban and continue to face major obstacles in protecting their rights and participating in the economic and political life of the country,” and “believes that the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs has a key role to play in addressing these issues.” The bill would provide $10 million for the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

The bill would provide $1 billion for the Millennium Challenge assistance program aimed at granting foreign assistance based on a country’s commitment to democratic rule and capitalism. The President had requested $1.3 billion for this program in FY2004.

S. 1426 also would provide $20 million for programs and activities that counter trafficking in persons. The committee “remains strongly committed to assisting women and children who are the most innocent victims of this gross human rights violation, which also contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS.” These funds should be used to “combat all three components of anti-trafficking: addressing the root causes of trafficking, protecting and providing services for victims, and prosecuting traffickers.”

In addition, $120 million would be provided for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and $310 million would be allocated for the Peace Corps in FY2004. This amount is $15 million above FY2003 and $49 million less than the President’s request. Authority would be provided to transfer $20 million from the Global AIDS Initiative to the Peace Corps for their HIV/AIDS activities abroad.

District of Columbia

Also during the mark-up session, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 22-7,the FY2004 District of Columbia spending bill (as-yet-unnumbered), but failed to report the measure. After the vote, ranking member Robert Byrd (D-WV) offered a motion to reconsider the vote to report the bill, but Chair Ted Stevens (R-AK) declared that the motion would be taken up on July 24 to give members more time to evaluate the new school voucher program.

The measure would provide $545 million to the District of Columbia in FY2004, $36 million more than FY2003, $34 million more than the President’s request, and $79 million more than the House Appropriations Committee approved on July 15.

The bill would allocate $172.1 million for the operation of the D.C. Courts, an $11.2 million increase over FY2003 and the President’s request. This total would include funding for the Family Court, which handles all cases in the District pertaining to child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, adoption, and foster care.

The Senate bill would provide $13 million for private school vouchers, $13 million in new funds to public schools, $13 million in new funds to charter schools, and $1 million to cover administrative costs.

House Floor Action

Agriculture

On July 14, the House approved, 347-64, the FY2004 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies spending bill (H.R. 2673). The measure would allocate $17.005 billion, an $872 million decrease from FY2003 and one percent less than the President’s request.

Acknowledging funding cuts that were necessary due to budget constraints, House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Henry Bonilla (R-TX) lauded the bill because “it does far more than assisting basic agriculture. It also supports human nutrition, the environment, and food, drug and medical safety. This is a bill that will deliver benefits to every one of our constituents every day, no matter what kind of district they represent.”

The measure would provide $4.588 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a $107.7 million decrease below FY2003 and $180.9 million less than the President’s request. The recommendation includes a $150 million reserve fund should program costs or participation exceed estimates. Reductions in this program are based on new information from the Agriculture Department detailing declining program participation and lower food costs than originally estimated in the President’s FY04 budget request. The recommended funding level for WIC would include $20 million for a breastfeeding peer counselor program and $4 million for pilot projects to combat obesity in children.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) opposed a number of provisions in the bill, and cited the decrease in funding for the WIC program as a major concern. “I am also concerned that the WIC program, which helps ensure that the nutritional needs of women and children are met, may not be funded sufficiently in this bill. That leaves no room for error. If the need increases, if food or infant formula prices increase, there will be no funds available to help those who depend the most on the program.”

Child nutrition programs would receive $11.418 billion in FY2004, an $838 million increase above FY2003, as requested by the President. Of this total, H.R. 2673 would provide $6.7 billion for the school lunch program, $1.8 billion for the school breakfast program, and $2 billion for the child and adult care food program. In addition, the committee recommendation includes $6 million for an assessment of the national school lunch and school breakfast programs. The report also notes that “nutrition-related illnesses are at an all-time high, and the poor nutrition status of American youth presents a potential health crisis.” For this reason, the bill fully funds the School Meals Initiative program at $10 million.

$1.389 billion would be allocated to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in FY2004, $15.5 million above last year and $5.4 million below the President’s request. The committee recommends a $600,000 increase for the Office of Women’s Health (OWH), bringing the total to $3.675 million. The committee report notes that, “of this amount, no less than $500,000 should be dedicated to supporting and implementing important women’s health outreach activities, including the hormone replacement education initiative that was started in fiscal year 2003.” Further, “it is critical that the Office of Women’s Health have the resources to partner with medical professional and women’s health groups, as well as other Federal agencies, to conduct a comprehensive public awareness outreach campaign about the appropriate use of hormone therapy, including the treatment of menopausal symptoms.”

Finally, $1.192 billion would be provided for the Food for Peace Program, $376 million less than the FY2003 level and $7 million more than the level requested by the President.

House Committee Action

District of Columbia

On July 15, the House Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, the FY2004 District of Columbia spending bill (H.R. 2675). As in the measure approved by the subcommittee on July 9 (see The Source, 7/11/03), the bill would provide $466 million to the District of Columbia in FY2004, $43 million less than FY2003 and $45 million more than the President’s request.

The bill would provide $163.8 million for the operation of the D.C. Courts, a $2.9 million increase over FY2003, as requested by the President. This total would include funding for the Family Court, which handles all cases in the District pertaining to child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, adoption, and foster care.

The bill also would provide $10 million for a voucher program to allow District students to attend private schools.

Included in the bill is a provision that would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement a D.C. law that permits municipal employees to purchase health insurance benefits for their domestic partners, regardless of gender or marital status.

The bill also 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. Exceptions for abortion coverage would be made in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

During consideration of the bill, the committee defeated the following amendments:

  • an amendment by ranking member Chaka Fattah (D-PA) that would have redirected the $10 million provided for the voucher program to an existing program that aims to expand opportunities for low-income children and children in low-performing schools to attend higher-performing public school and charter schools. The amendment was defeated, 24-32;
  • an amendment by Rep. Fattah that would not have made the $10 million available for the voucher program unless the Department of Education could certify that 90 percent of the students in the District’s public school system are being taught by “highly qualified” teachers, as defined in the No Child Left Behind Act (P.L. 107-110), and that high quality materials comparable to those used in “highest achieving” schools are made available to all District school children. The amendment was defeated by voice vote;
  • an amendment by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) that would have allowed the District to use its own local funds, but not federal funds, to implement a needle exchange program. The amendment was defeated by voice vote; and
  • an amendment by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) that would have allowed the District to use its own local funds, but not federal funds, to implement a voter referendum approving the medical use of marijuana. The amendment was defeated, 16-36.

The full House is scheduled to consider the bill on July 21.

VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies

On July 15, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies approved, by voice vote, its FY2004 appropriations bill (as-yet-unnumbered). The measure would allocate $90 billion in FY2004, a $2.9 billion increase over FY2003 and $600 million more than the President’s request.

The measure would provide $1.242 billion for homeless programs, including full funding to renew Shelter Plus Care contracts, which provide supportive housing for homeless people with disabilities and their families. This funding level is $25 million more than FY2003 and $288 million less than the President’s request.

In addition, the bill would include $297 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, a $7 million increase over last year and the same amount as requested by the President.

The full committee is scheduled to consider the bill on July 21.

Foreign Operations

On June 16, the House Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, the FY2004 Foreign Operations spending bill (as-yet-unnumbered). As in the measure approved by the Subcommittee on July 10 (see The Source, 7/11/03), the bill would allocate $17.1 billion in FY2004, $900 million more than FY2003 and $1.8 billion less than the President’s request.

Under the measure, $2.2 billion would be provided for the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund, an increase of $411 million over FY2003 and $621 million more than the President’s request. Of that amount, $120 million would be provided for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The FY2004 foreign operations spending bill also would allocate $1.3 billion in development assistance for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Last year, Congress funded development assistance at $1.363 billion. The total funding for USAID in FY2004 would be $4.7 billion, $166 million above FY2003 and $46 million below the President’s request.

As requested by the President, international family planning programs would receive $425 million, $22 million less than FY2003.

The bill also would provide $800 million for the Millennium Challenge assistance program, a new program aimed at granting foreign assistance based on a country’s commitment to democratic rule and capitalism.

In addition, $1.43 billion would be included for HIV/AIDS activities, $86 million above the President’s request. Of that total, $400 million would be provided for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and $840 million in bilateral HIV/AIDS funding within the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund.

During consideration of the bill, the committee defeated the following amendments:

  • an amendment by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) that would have allocated an additional $1 billion in “emergency” funds for HIV/AIDS activities. The amendment was defeated, 28-33;
  • an amendment by Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) that would have transferred $500 million of the amount provided for the Millennium Challenge assistance program to HIV/AIDS activities. The amendment was defeated, 27-28; and
  • an amendment by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) that would have transferred $200 million of the amount provided for the Millennium Challenge assistance program to support additional economic development in Africa. The amendment also would have called for an additional $588 million in emergency funding for the Africa Development Fund, child health, economic support, and debt relief for the Congo Republic. The amendment was defeated by voice vote.

Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary

During the same mark-up session, the House Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, the FY2004 Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary spending bill (as-yet-unnumbered). The measure would provide $37.9 billion in FY2004, $700 million more than FY2003 and $200 million more than the President’s request.

Funding levels for programs of particular interest to women and their families were the same as those included in the subcommittee-approved bill on July 9 (see The Source, 7/11/03), but not all details have been made available to the public. Some highlights from the bill include:

Department of Justice

Under the bill, the Department of Justice would receive $20.3 billion, an increase of $527 million over the FY2003 allocation and $1.5 billion more than the President’s request.

The Local Law Enforcement Block Grant would be level-funded at $400 million.

Programs under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would receive $388 million in FY2004, a $2.2 million increase over FY2003 and $14.7 million above the level requested by the President.

The bill also would provide $174 million to reduce the DNA sample backlog. This amount is $133 million over the FY2003 funding level.

The State Department

Under the bill, the State Department would receive $8.4 billion in FY2004, an increase of $570 million over FY2003 and $223 million less than the President’s request.

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