CHN: Labor HHS Bill in Limbo
Chairman Bypasses Committee to Comply with Speaker’s Demand of Lower Spending In an unusual move that underscores the tension between House appropriators and the Republican leadership, on September 4, Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) bypassed committee consideration to introduce the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill for direct consideration by the House. The bill matches the budget request of President Bush, which Democrats and many moderate Republicans claim falls short of adequate funding for many popular and essential programs.
The President’s request of $130 billion for discretionary funds falls short by over $6 billion, according to GOP centrists, who have also indicated that they will vote against the House bill without additional funds. Young – who himself favors additional funding – introduced the bill without committee consideration in order to comply with Speaker Denny Hastert’s (R-IL) demand that the President’s numbers not be exceeded. Young has indicated that the bill would have been unlikely to emerge from committee at the President’s level.
With centrist Republicans joining Democrats in pledging to oppose the bill, and with the end of the fiscal year on October 1 fast approaching, the GOP leadership in the House has given little indication as to how it will break the deadlock. One possible solution would be to pass a continuing resolution, which would put off the difficult decisions until after the mid-term election. Many suggest that the President will back off of his hard-line budget stance after the elections.
The Senate completed committee consideration of its version of the Labor-HHS-Education bill on July 18 (see the July 19 edition of The Human Needs Report). Floor consideration has not yet been scheduled.