The Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system would lose $50 million this year under a compromise spending cut bill approved last week by House and Senate negotiators.
But the bill faces a murky future. President Clinton last week threatened a veto because of program cuts, including the VA reductions.
Clinton's veto threat may create a standoff between the Republican-controlled Congress and the Democratic administration.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, said last week that Congress shouldn't yield to Clinton's threat and redraft the bill.
The spending cut measure-called a rescission bill-would require VA Secretary Jesse Brown to cut $50 million in services or equipment purchases from the fiscal 1995 medical budget, which ends Sept. 30.
The VA system of more than 600 medical facilities is budgeted for $16.2 billion in fiscal 1995.
The rescission bill also calls for $31 million in cuts in the VA's major construction reserve fund, which is money appropriated for projects but not spent. About $354.3 million is budgeted for major construction projects in fiscal 1995.
The House originally proposed $206 million in VA cuts-$156 million for construction of six new outpatient facilities and $50 million for the purchase of medical equipment.
The Senate's version of the rescission package, passed after the House's, called for $100 million in cuts-$50 million from construction reserves, $30 million from personnel costs and $20 million from medical equipment purchases.
The compromise bill still must be approved by both chambers of Congress before it can be sent to the White House for Clinton's signature or veto.