House finally passes supplemental spending bill

Shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, an exhausted House passed the $28.8 billion fiscal 2002 supplemental spending package by a vote of 280-138, an hour after GOP leaders pushed a second, closed rule through the floor on a narrow 213-201 party line vote.

Democrats spent almost all of Thursday protesting the initial rule, which added several non-appropriations items to the supplemental, including placeholder language on protecting the full faith and credit of the federal government. That was meant to avoid an up- or-down vote on raising the statutory debt ceiling while permitting conferees to add legislative language to raise the limit in conference with the Senate.

In a written statement released from Moscow, where he is visiting, President Bush praised the House supplemental bill while putting the Senate on notice that it must not seek to pile "unnecessary" spending onto its version.

"I expect the Senate to only spend ... what is necessary to fight the war and for our immediate emergency needs," Bush said. "As we do what is necessary to prevail in the war and protect our homeland, the Congress must restrain other government spending so we can return to a balanced budget soon."

To cut off Democratic protests and speed the underlying bill to final passage, GOP leaders drafted another rule late Thursday night that did not allow any amendments to be offered. But it did let stand an amendment by Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., that passed during the earlier debate to remove the emergency designation requirement from the bill's intelligence funding.

The new rule also adopted the various provisions added in the first rule--the debt language, the deeming resolution setting the fiscal 2003 discretionary spending limit at $759 billion, the textile trade provision inserted for Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., the Medicare hospital reimbursement changes added for Reps. Don Sherwood, R-Pa., and Sue Kelly, R-N.Y., and the Alaska mail route language added for Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Young.

And the second rule also took three other actions. The first struck a provision by Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, preventing the Department of Health and Human Services from consolidating the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Public Affairs or Office of Legislation within the secretary's office. Also stricken were the two amendments added in committee concerning the United Nations Population Fund, and the $250 million rescission of unobligated grants from last fall's airline bailout package.

Dropping the rescission added $250 million to the $29.4 billion price tag the bill carried out of markup. But at the direction of the Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office will be told to use the Office of Management and Budget's more generous estimate of another offset in the bill that would cut off access to the bailout's loan guarantees for the remainder of fiscal 2002. CBO had scored the savings at $393 million, but OMB figured it to be $1.254 billion.

The extra $861 million in savings that comes from using OMB's scoring brings the final cost of the bill down to $28.8 billion.