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Sixth CR Needed; Several Remaining Sticking Points

This week, Congress cleared a sixth continuing resolution (H. J. Res. 76), which will fund government programs through December 15. The House and Senate approved the resolution by voice vote on December 5.

To date, 8 of the 13 annual appropriations bills have been signed into law. While Congress cleared the FY2002 transportation (H.R. 2299) and District of Columbia (H.R. 2944) spending bills for the President’s signature, the three remaining measures—defense, foreign operations, and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education—have several obstacles to overcome.

Appropriators are struggling to reach an agreement over funding for the United Nations Population Fund in the FY2002 foreign operations bill (H.R. 2505). Appropriators are also awaiting completion of the education reform conference before finalizing funding levels in the FY2002 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill (H.R. 3061). Conferees on that bill also need to decide whether to include a mental health parity provision included in the Senate-passed version (S. 1536). The defense spending bill is being held up over a disagreement about how to proceed with homeland defense funding.

Defense: On December 5, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, by voice vote, the FY2002 defense spending bill (H.R. 3338). Several women’s health research programs are funded under the bill: $175 million would be provided for the Department of Defense’s peer-reviewed breast cancer research program and $12 million would be provided for ovarian cancer research. These funding levels remain unchanged from the FY2001 levels.

The committee allocated $50 million for a Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. The committee report includes osteoporosis research in this program. The House-passed bill allocated $4 million for osteoporosis research. The Senate may consider the measure over the weekend.

District of Columbia: The conference report for the FY2002 District of Columbia (D.C.) appropriations bill (H.R. 2944) was approved, 302-84, by the House on December 6. The Senate approved it on December 7 by a vote of 79-20.

The final measure would end a controversial ban on the use of local 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 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. The Senate version would have allowed the use of local funds for needle exchange programs.

Transportation: The Senate cleared the conference report for the FY2002 transportation spending bill (H.R. 2299) by a vote of 97-2 on December 4. The House approved the conference report last week (see The Source, 11/30/01, p. 2).

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