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Supplemental spending bill includes money for programs important to cities and towns.

Congress adopted, and President Bush signed, a supplemental appropriations bill that contained funding for both the war and programs important to cities and towns.

The bill includes $22.2 billion in fiscal 2007 emergency spending for domestic programs, including $3.1 billion in funding for military base closure expenses, $1.8 billion for veterans medical care, $650 million for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), $2.9 billion for hurricane relief, $1.1 billion for antiterrorism homeland security activities and $3 billion for agriculture disaster relief.

The bill also raises the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour from $5.15 over two years and provides $4.8 billion in small-business tax incentives.

The emergency supplemental appropriations bill was shuttled through the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over the objections of a majority of House Democrats--including the speaker herself--who opposed continued war funding without a troop withdrawal date.

Yet despite her objections and those of the majority of Democrats, the bill reached the president's desk and was signed into law on May 25, just before Congress adjourned for its Memorial Day recess, in large part because of a number of strategic moves initiated by the Speaker.

The ultimate goal was to avoid an actual House vote on a final emergency supplemental appropriation. To do this, Pelosi allowed the Senate version of H.R. 2206, which was essentially a "shell," to come to the floor of the House to be amended.

Two separate amendments were offered.

The first amendment appropriated the $22.2 billion for domestic spending. This amendment passed overwhelmingly:

The second amendment appropriated $97.8 billion in fiscal 2007 emergency spending, including $94.4 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and $3.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund.

This amendment passed largely because of the backing of House Republicans.

By allowing two separate votes, Pelosi allowed lawmakers to vote in favor of increased domestic funding for hurricane relief, SCHIP and other priority domestic programs, as well as a minimum wage increase, yet vote against additional Iraq war funding, while avoiding the funding crisis that would have emerged if the Congress and White House remained at odds over how to fund the war in Iraq.

Any attempt to pass a funding bill without a withdrawal date would have either led to the bill's defeat by House Democrats, who are overwhelmingly opposed to continued funding without a withdrawal date, or would have left House Democrats severely divided.

After the House passed its amended version of H.R. 2206, the bill was returned to the Senate for consideration where it passed and was sent to the president for his signature. Unlike House members, senators were forced to vote on the entire bill, including both the domestic and war funding provisions.
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Author:Bomberg, Neil
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 4, 2007
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