Congress plans appropriations bill spree

As the countdown to the August recess begins, both houses of Congress are focused on making progress on their FY99 appropriations work, with the House pledging to pass all 13 spending bills and the Senate committed to doing eight.

Next week, the House will consider suspensions and continue to debate the campaign finance reform proposal by Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Martin Meehan, D-Mass.

The appropriations bills slated for House action next week are Commerce-Justice-State, Transportation and Labor-HHS. In addition, the House will vote on a resolution to disapprove extending the Jackson-Vanik trade waiver to Vietnam. Before leaving for its summer recess Aug. 8, the House intends to finish work on all FY99 appropriations measures, as well as fulfill Majority Leader Armey's pledge to finish the campaign finance reform debate, which began in March.

In addition, the House plans to vote on the leadership's anti- teen smoking bill - which has not yet been introduced. But action on tax cut or budget reconciliation legislation is not likely before the extended recess, according to Armey's office. The House is scheduled to return Sept. 9.

The Senate intends to take up the Transportation and Treasury- Postal appropriations bills next week, as well as finish consideration--if necessary--of the credit union membership bill. A spokesman for Majority Leader Lott said Lott also hopes to take up health care legislation next week, although he and Minority Leader Daschle have not reached a time agreement.

Whether the Senate leaves for its recess as scheduled on July 31 or has to stay into the first week in August depends on whether the Senate finishes eight spending bills, the spokesman said. Lott also wants the Senate to finish the health care bill.

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