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President Vetoes LHHS Appropriations Bill; House and Senate to Attempt Override

Legislative Update
November 13, 2007

Following through on his repeated promises to do so, this morning President Bush vetoed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations conference bill (H.R. 3043). The President had vowed to veto the bill since its spending level is nearly $10 billion over his FY 2008 budget request.

The bill was sent to the White House last Thursday, November 8, after the House voted 274 to 141 to approve the conference agreement on the bill. A total of 51 Republicans voted for the conference report; no Democrat voted against it. The number of votes that would be needed to override the veto is 286, which means that the Democratic leadership needs to persuade some of the House Republicans who had voted for the bill on earlier votes before switching their votes, to subsequently switch their votes again back to support the bill.

The LHHS bill had originally been combined with the Military Construction/Veterans Administration appropriations conference bill, but the two bills were split in the Senate on a procedural vote, and the Senate passed the stand-alone LHHS bill by a 55-37 vote, which is well short of the two-thirds margin needed to override the Presidentís veto. Democratic Congressional leaders had combined the two bills in an attempt to force the Administration to agree to a higher funding level than that in the President's request for the LHHS bill.

The FY2008 LHHS conference agreement includes $30 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is an increase of $1.1 billion (3.8 percent) over the FY2007 level, marking the first time in several years that the increase in funding for the NIH keeps pace with inflation. The conference number also includes the $300 million transfer for Global HIV/AIDS as proposed by both the House and Senate, meaning that the adjusted number for NIH is $29.7 billion, which is a net increase of $899 million or 3.1 percent. The LHHS conference bill funds the National Eye Institute (NEI) at $684.1 million, which is a $17 million or 2.5 percent increase over FY2007.

The House is expected to take floor action on a veto override attempt on November 15, and there is currently no word on the timing for Senate action. Congress is scheduled to adjourn on November 16 for the Thanksgiving recess.

NAEVR has joined with 54 health, education and labor advocacy organizations to place an advertisement in two Capitol Hill publications urging Congress to pass the LHHS appropriations bill.