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Senate Committee Approves Spending Bills

On July 26, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2002 Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government appropriations bill and the FY2002 Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Agencies appropriations bill by votes of 29-0.

Treasury-Postal: The committee-approved bill would require health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Programs (FEHBP) to cover prescription contraceptives if they cover other prescription drugs. The bill, as approved by committee, does not include a provision that would prohibit abortion coverage under FEHBP. However, Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) intends to offer an amendment to prohibit such coverage when the bill reaches the Senate floor.

The bill also would make permanent a pilot program that allows federal agencies to use administrative funds to help low-income employees pay for child care expenses.

Foreign Operations: The committee-approved bill would overturn the Mexico City policy, which prohibits nongovernmental organizations that use their own funds to perform abortions abroad or lobby on abortion policy from receiving U.S. funds. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) included the provision in a manager’s amendment that was approved by unanimous consent.

The bill would provide a $25 million increase for international family planning programs to $450 million. The President requested level funding.

Additionally, the Senate bill would increase the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund from $25 million to $39 million.

The Child Survival and Health Programs Fund would receive $1.45 billion. Of that amount, $450 million would be allocated to global HIV/AIDS prevention programs, including a $50 million contribution to a global HIV/AIDS trust fund.

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