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House Fails to Override Presidentís Veto of FY2008 LHHS Conference Report; Congress Anticipates Action on Omnibus Spending Bill in December

Legislative Update
November 16, 2007

Late last evening, the House failed to override the Presidentís veto of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations conference report (H.R. 3043) by a vote of 277-141. A total of 51 Republicans voted with 226 Democrats for the override, while 141 Republicans voted to sustain the veto. 15 Members did not vote.

Even as the House was moving toward a vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated that discussions had already begun regarding crafting an omnibus spending package that would split the difference on the amount of money in which Congress exceeded the Presidentís FY2008 budget request. The omnibus would contain the 11 remaining FY2008 appropriations bills (absent Defense, which was signed by the President into law this week). At this time, it is difficult to estimate how the potential $1.1 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) contained in the conference report would be reduced in an omnibus bill, but House Appropriations Chair Cong. David Obey (D-WI) indicated that the NIH increase could be cut by as much as $700 million, noting that this would slow research on many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, Parkinsonís, and Alzheimerís.

The FY2008 LHHS appropriations conference report included National Eye Institute (NEI) funding at $684 million, a $17 million or 2.5 percent increase.