The House voted 272-142 on an amended version of a federal spending bill that funds the HHS at $65.6 billion for fiscal 2008, and includes dollars for 10 other federal agencies. The House had to make the voteits last for 2007after the Senate approved the measure yesterday, adding a $70 billion measure to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Bush is expected to sign the measure in the coming weeks.
The massive, $560 billion legislative package adds roughly $5.5 billion more for medical research, veterans' healthcare, community health centers and rural hospitals to the original spending blueprint offered by the White House in February. Overall, the bill would fund HHS at $65.6 billion, up about 2.3% or about $1.5 billion more than the department's 2007 budget. Of that, federally funded community health centers would receive $2.1 billion and the 1,200 or so small and rural hospitals would receive $287 million to improve access and outreach efforts.
The bill also provides $43.1 billion for the Veterans Affairs Department, up about 18% or $6.6 billion more than in 2007 and $3.7 billion over President Bushs request. The Veterans Health Administration will receive the majority of that funding, taking in $37.2 billion to help treat the 5.8 million patients who are expected next year. -- by Matthew DoBias
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