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House Committee Approves Two Spending Bills; Military Construction Passes House

District of Columbia: On September 20, the House Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, the FY2002 District of Columbia spending measure (as-yet-unnumbered). The bill maintains current law with respect to the prohibition on the use of local and federal funds for abortion coverage for low-income women on Medicaid, implementation of a voter referendum approving the medical use of marijuana, and needle exchange programs. Exceptions for abortion coverage are made in the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. The bill does not renew a provision enacted last year that prohibits the distribution of needles within 1,000 feet of schools.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) offered a controversial amendment that would allow the District to use its own funds to offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners of city employees. Although the D.C. City Council approved the benefits package in 1992, Congress has continually prohibited the use of local and federal funds to implement the benefits. The amendment was approved by voice vote.

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) offered and withdrew an amendment to strike the 34 riders on the bill, including provisions dealing with abortion coverage, the medical use of marijuana, and needle exchange programs.

The House will consider the bill on September 25.

Military Construction: One day after receiving voice vote approval by the House Appropriations Committee, the House on September 21 passed the FY2002 Military Construction appropriations bill (H.R. 2904). Under the bill, $43 million would be provided for child care centers, a $17.5 million increase over FY2001. The bill was approved, 401-0.

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