Senate Passes Spending Bill Without Abortion Restrictions

The Senate passed a $390 billion spending bill last night that lacked funding restrictions on abortion. The omnibus bill, made up of 11 spending bills left over from 2002, passed the Senate 69-29 after a series of debates and votes on a variety of last-minute amendments.

Not included in the bill, however, were two abortion-related provisions that have been in place for decades, according to the Washington Times. One provision restricts abortion coverage for the 8 million people in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program except in cases of rape, incest, of when the life of the woman is threatened, according to Kaisernetwork.org. The other prohibits abortions for women in the federal prison system, except in cases of rape and threats to the life of the woman. President Bush’s advisors have said they will recommend he veto the bill, which finances every federal agency, if the provisions are not included in the final version of the bill, according to the Los Angeles Times. The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference committee for negotiations. Congressional aides say that at this point in the process, the abortion provisions are likely to be reinserted, the LA Times reports.

Democrats argue that the Senate bill does not include enough funding for important domestic programs like healthcare, food safety inspection, and homeland security, among others, according to AP. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) explained that she was torn between her concerns about the Republican budget and that fact that “if we don’t fund the government, it shuts down,” according to the LA Times. She ended up voting against the final version of the bill, as did 26 fellow democrats, Jim Jeffords (I-VT), and Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL).


Los Angeles Times 1/18/03, 1/24/03; New York Times 1/24/03; Associated Press 1/24/03; Kaisernetwork.org 1/24/03; Washington Times 1/22/03

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