SEN. KENNEDY ADDS $ 100 MIL. FOR AIDS TREATMENT PROGRAMS
SEN. KENNEDY ADDS $ 100 MIL. FOR AIDS TREATMENT PROGRAMS to the Budget Resolution Bill, which passed the Senate May 4 by a 68-31 vote. The provision, introduced for Kennedy (D-Mass.) by Budget Committee Chairman Sasser (D-Tenn.), also authorizes use of the funds for an "expedited drug approval process." The amendment -- cosponsored by Sens. Bentsen (D-Texas), Bradley (D-N.J.), Cranston (D-Calif.), Wilson (R-Calif.), and Hatch (R-Utah) -- does not require an increase in revenues but is funded by cuts in federal travel funds. Hatch explained the funding mechanism on the Senate floor: "This resolution would reduce government travel across the board by 5% [$ 94 mil.] and instead allocate that budget authority and outlays for [health care funds]. In addition, there would be a shift of $ 6 mil. within [health care funds] from travel to health-related programs." The ranking Republican on the Senate Labor & Human Resources said the "additional funding will already help some of our under or unfunded health programs." Hatch said he particularly supported the measure's targeting of two programs: "home health care services for low-income families and persons with AIDS, and increased funding for the FDA." The senator has been working for two years on an agency "revitalization" effort and has introduced legislation for the plan ("The Pink Sheet" April 24, p. 10). The House also passed a budget resolution on May 4 by a vote of 263-167, with 14 not voting. A conference committee is expected to meet to reconcile the House and Senate bills by the May 25 deadline established under Congress' budget rules. After May 25, appropriations committees would be free to draft funding bills on their own in their areas of jurisdiction. Congress rarely meets budget deadlines; however, the legislature is making a concerted effort to beat the clock this year. The Senate has appointed its conferees: Democratic Sens. Sasser, Riegle (Mich.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Simon (Ill.), Sanford (N.C.), and Wirth (Colo.) and Republicans Domenici (N.M.), Grassley (Iowa), Kasten (Wis.), and Gramm (Texas). House conferees have yet to be appointed. Neither budget bill provides for user fees. However,the Senate measure assumes $ 100 mil. in "reconciled savings" under health care. The term appears to be deliberately vague but reportedly does not refer to the $ 100 mil. in travel cuts under the Kennedy amendment. Both Kennedy and Hatch oppose the user fee concept.
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