CHN: House Passes Supplemental Spending Bill With Important Provisions for Gulf Coast, LIHEAP
The House of Representatives easily passed a $91.9 billion supplemental spending bill (H.R. 4939) by a vote of 348-71, on March 16 to fund ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, foreign aid, and hurricane recovery. Of the total, $19.2 billion is to go towards hurricane recovery, including $4.2 in Community Development Block Grant funds to rebuild housing that was lost during Katrina and $1.46 billion to rebuild New Orleans’ levees. The bill survived attempts by the conservative Republican Study Committee to split the bill into two supplementals, one for defense and one for hurricane-related funds, so that the latter bill could include offsetting spending cuts.
Not everyone was satisfied with the level of funding for helping people in the Gulf Coast. Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) offered an amendment that would increase the funds for levees by $260 million, which would have brought the funding to the level requested by the President. The House also rejected two amendments offered by Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) that each would have increased the Community Development Block Grant funding for Gulf Coast recovery by about $2 billion dollars.
The bill also includes a LIHEAP provision sponsored by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and added as an amendment during the House Appropriation Committee markup on March 8. The Obey provision would allow the $750 billion in LIHEAP funds provided for fiscal year 2007 in the recently enacted budget reconciliation bill to be used in either fiscal 2006 or fiscal 2007. The House rejected an amendment by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) to require that all of the $750 million be spent in fiscal 2006, as well as an amendment by Rep. Michael Conway (R-TX) to strip the Obey provision.