Rebuilding Haiti

Spending Bill With Post-Earthquake Aid Heads Back to Senate for New Vote

July 7, 2010

By Tom Ichniowski
This article originally appeared on Engineering News-Record

An appropriations package that includes $2.9 billion in relief and reconstruction aid for Haiti has cleared the House and will next move to the Senate for a vote. The spending measure, which the House passed late on July 1, focuses mainly on funding for the Afghanistan war. But Republicans oppose the non-defense spending House Democrats added to the bill, and the White House has threatened a veto because of a provision that would cut certain education funding.

The bill has not had a smooth path. The Senate had approved a $58.5-billion supplemental spending bill on May 27, which provided $2.8 billion for Haiti, including $438 million to rebuild infrastructure damaged in the Jan. 12 earthquake.

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As action moved to the House, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) added $16 billion to the Senate bill, including $10 billion in education funds for fiscally strained states; Obey said the funds would help avert layoffs of teachers.

To offset some of that added spending, Obey included cuts to other programs, including an $800-million rescission of aid meant to encourage state education reforms. That cutback drew a veto threat from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Because the House made changes to the Senate spending package, the amended House version next must go back to the Senate for a new vote after the July 4 recess.

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