House Passes $555B Spending Bill, Sends to President Bush
The House on Wednesday voted 272-142 to pass a $555 billion fiscal year 2008 omnibus spending bill (HR 2764) that combines 11 unfinished spending measures, CQ Today reports (Clarke/Higa, CQ Today, 12/19). The bill now goes to President Bush, who is expected to sign the measure (Cowan, Reuters, 12/20).
The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday after voting 70-25 to approve an amendment to add funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The House-approved version of the bill combines 10 unfinished spending measures with the FY 2008 foreign operations spending bill. The bill would fund the Department of State, USAID, and other global health and international aid programs. It also affects the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which aims to encourage economic and political reforms in developing countries.
The measure would provide $6.5 billion for U.S. and global health activities, which is $1.4 billion more than in 2007 and $796 million more than Bush's request, including emergency spending, according to the House Appropriations Committee. Five billion dollars in foreign operations spending would go to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- at least $1.2 billion more than the program received last year.
The bill includes a provision that would allow overseas HIV/AIDS programs relief from abstinence-education mandates. By law, at least one-third of HIV prevention funds that focus countries receive through PEPFAR must be used for abstinence-until-marriage programs. Under the bill, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria would receive about $841 million. The amount includes $546 million in the State-Foreign Operations section and $295 million in the Labor-HHS-Education section of the bill. Bush had requested $300 million for the Global Fund, all of which was allocated in the Labor-HHS bill.
In addition, the measure would provide $1.8 billion for global health and child survival programs, including $347 million for HIV/AIDS programs. Funding for maternal and child health programs would increase by $101 million, and malaria and TB funding would increase by $101 million and $72 million, respectively. The measure would reduce funding for MCC to $1.54 billion -- about half of Bush's requested $3 billion. A proposal to change the way MCC funding is dispersed was dropped.
The measure also would increase funding for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs -- federal- and state-funded programs that provide HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals -- by $19 million to $809 million. In addition, the measure would lift a ban on funding for needle-exchange programs in Washington, D.C. The district Department of Health has said it plans to allocate $1 million in city funds for needle-exchange programs once the funding ban is removed (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/19).
Congress on Wednesday also passed a continuing resolution (HJ Res 72) to fund the government at FY 2007 levels through Dec. 31 to give Bush enough time to review the omnibus measure (CQ Today, 12/19).