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House Committee Approves Spending Bills

Treasury-Postal: On July 9, the House Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, the FY2003 Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government appropriations bill (as-yet-unnumbered). The measure would allocate $35 billion, of which $18.5 billion would be discretionary spending.

Under the measure, $1 million would be provided to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to support the use of forensic technology to reunite families. It also would provide $4.2 million for the Customs Cyber Smuggling Center to target international child pornography, trafficking, and preying on children through the Internet.

In addition, the measure 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.

Agriculture: On July 11, the House Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, the FY2003 agriculture appropriations bill (as-yet-unnumbered). The agriculture spending measure would allocate $74.3 billion, of which $17.6 billion would be discretionary spending.

The measure would provide $4.776 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a $428 million increase over last year and $25 million more than the President’s request. A reserve fund of $150 million also would be provided in the event that WIC costs or participation in the program exceed the funding levels.

Child nutrition programs would receive a $489 million increase over FY2002, bringing FY2003 funding to $10.576 billion and maintaining the President’s request.

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration would receive $1.385 billion, a $16 million increase over last year and $7 million more than the President’s request. The measure also would provide $1.2 billion for the Food for Peace program, a $350 million increase over last year and a $15 million increase over the President’s request.

Senate Subcommittee Approves Treasury-Postal Spending Bill

On July 11, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government approved, by voice vote, its FY2003 spending bill (as-yet-unnumbered). The measure would allocate $18.5 billion in discretionary spending, the same amount approved by the House Appropriations Committee. Further details of the measure will be available after the full committee mark-up on July 16.

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