CHN: War Supplemental Bill Seen as Vehicle for Domestic Priorities

On July 1, the House passed the rule for consideration of the FY 2010 war supplemental spending bill (H.R. 4899) that included the ‘budget enforcement’ resolution (see article elsewhere in this Human Needs Report) and paved the way for the addition of domestic funding.  The $58.8 billion Senate-passed version of the H.R. 4899 largely funds the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and includes $5.1 billion for FEMA disaster assistance, $2.9 billion for Haiti, and $162 million for the Gulf Coast oil spill. One priority for Appropriations Committee Chairman Obey (D-WI) has been to add funding for additional emergency support to local school districts to prevent impending layoffs; another is to address a shortfall in the appropriations bill for Pell grants.
In a 239-182 vote, the House agreed to add $21 billion in discretionary spending to H.R. 4899.  The largest amount, $10 billion, would be for an Education Jobs Fund that is estimated to preserve 140,000 jobs for school employees next school year.  The amendment also adds $4.95 billion to address an unanticipated shortfall in the Pell Grant Program.  Several provisions from the stalled jobs bill (H.R. 4213) were also incorporated including $1 billion in 2010 and 2011 for summer and year-round jobs for workers age 24 and younger and settlements of long-running lawsuits to black farmers and American Indians for $1.15 billion and $3.4 billion respectively. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) would also receive $50 million in additional funding for food purchases to distribute through local emergency food providers.  Border security, innovative technology energy loans, and Gulf Coast oil spill funding were among the other programs that would receive more funds.

Funding for the newly added programs is offset with savings from mandatory programs and rescissions in programs thought to have sufficient funds on hand or that do not need the funding this year or next.  The Administration has expressed strong support for the overall bill, but objects to the $800 million rescission from the “Race to the Top” education program.  Chairman Obey notes that the program still contains $3.2 billion from the original $4.3 billion it received in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The House stopped short of voting on the passage of H.R. 4899, choosing rather to wait until after the July 4 recess in hopes that the Senate will have sufficient votes to pass a bill that includes fully offset domestic spending.

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