The Senate began debate on the omnibus appropriations bill, which was approved by the House in a 242-176 vote yesterday. The bill would allocate $142.7 million for nursing education in fiscal 2004 -- $30 million more than originally appropriated. It also would set aside $39.8 million for rural outreach, $1.6 billion for community health centers and $518 million for hospitals' homeland security preparations. In all, the bill would authorize $328 billion in discretionary spending for federal agencies, including about $140 billion for HHS and the departments of education and labor. The figure does not include mandatory funding for such programs as Medicare and Medicaid. Including mandatory funding, the bill would allocate a total of $820 billion to federal agencies in fiscal 2004. The Senate is not expected to vote on the measure until late January. -- by Tony Fong
Spending bill, with extra for nursing, hits Senate
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