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House, Senate Committee Act on FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations Bill

House Action

On May 15, the House considered the FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 2642). The bill was considered as three separate amendments addressing funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, terms for troop withdrawal, and domestic programs, respectively.

The House approved, 256-166, an amendment that would expand education benefits equal to the highest tuition rate of a public college or university in a veteran’s home state under the GI Bill (P.L. 78-346). The measure would pay for the veterans’ education benefits by imposing a .47 percent tax increase on the income of individuals earning at least $500,000 annually ($1 million for joint filers or surviving spouses).

The legislation would provide $110 million for state unemployment insurance and employment service options and extend for up to 13 weeks unemployment benefits for those who have exhausted their existing benefits and provide an additional 13 weeks for individuals living in states with high unemployment rates.

The measure would provide $5.923 billion for State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development programs, and for international food assistance. Included in that amount is $850 million for Food for Peace (P.L. 480, Title II), which would remain available until expended. An additional $395 million for the program would become available on October 1, which also would remain available until expended. The amount also includes $75 million for Global Health and Child Survival, $333.6 million for international peacekeeping efforts, and $200 million for international disaster assistance.

The language accompanying the provision specifies that “Funds appropriated by this chapter…that are available for assistance for Afghanistan shall be made available, to the maximum extent practicable, through local Afghan provincial and municipal governments and Afghan civil society organizations and in a manner that emphasizes the participation of Afghan women and directly improves the economic, social, and political status of Afghan women and girls.”

The measure also would provide $11.766 million for Navy and Marine family housing construction and $210 million for military child care centers.

While the House approved, 227-196, an amendment to require troops to begin withdrawal from Iraq within 30 days of enactment, it rejected, 141-149, an amendment that would have provided $96.6 billion in FY2008 and $65.9 billion in FY2009 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senate Committee Action

The same day, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, its version of the supplemental appropriations bill (as-yet-unnumbered).

Like the House bill, the Senate panel separated the legislation into three amendments that address funding for the war, troop withdrawal, and spending for domestic programs.

The bill would provide $193 billion, $9.1 billion more than the House version, including $168.9 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also would extend unemployment benefits by 13 weeks to all workers nationwide and provide an additional 13 weeks, for a total of 26 weeks, for workers in high unemployment areas, and provide $1.245 billion in global food aid, identical to the House version.

During its consideration of the bill, the committee adopted, by voice vote, an amendment by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) to provide $50 million for programs under the Adam Walsh Act to track unregistered sex offenders.

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