President Bush signed a densely packed appropriations bill that contains the HHS fiscal 2008 budget and those of 10 other federal agencies, but lashed out at federal lawmakers for stuffing it with more than $10 billion in pet projects.
The bill allots $65.6 billion in discretionary funding for HHS, giving millions of dollars more to medical research, rural healthcare and community health centers. Both the House and Senate easily cleared the total $560 billion legislative package last week. At the outset, the bill funds HHS at about $1.5 billion more than the departments 2007 budget, an increase of about 2.3%.
The bill also provides the Veterans Health Administration with $37.2 billion to help treat the 5.8 million patients it expects in the next year.
I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half, Bush said. In its entirety, the bill contains nearly 9,800 earmarks, including more than $250 million in funding for 889 earmarks for district hospitals, university medical centers, community health clinics and other related services.
These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending, Bush added. -- by Matthew DoBias