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Senate Starts Debate on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill

The Senate dedicated three days to debate on H.R. 3043, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2008.

This $150 billion spending bill comprises funding for numerous programs and agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The general spending proposed by this bill is $9 billion higher than the amount proposed by the President's budget. As a result, this is one of nine appropriations bills, which face veto threats from the Administration.

More than 30 amendments were offered during the Senate floor debate on H.R. 3043. One notable amendment, offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), would prevent funds appropriated by this bill from being used to, (1) prevent individuals from importing prescription drugs for their own private use; or (2) prevent wholesalers or pharmacists from importing prescription drugs that are approved by the FDA and that conform to federal requirements prohibiting adulterated and misbranded drugs. Another amendment, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), would withhold funding for all of the bill's "earmarks" approximately $400 million until the HHS Secretary certifies that all children in the United States under the age of 18 are insured by whichever private or public health insurance.

The Vitter and Coburn amendments will be pending, along with numerous other amendments, when the Senate recommences debate on the bill this week.



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