Despite a veto threat from President Bush and with the presumptive Republican candidate to replace him in absentia, the U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would dramatically enhance educational benefits for veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it did so, supporters of the measure were quick to note, by a margin (75-22) that could comfortably override the president's veto. The legislation will now go back to the House, which passed a parallel bill last month but failed to muster a similar veto-proof margin.
There's never enough money, it seems. Virtually every spring and summer, as Congress begins to allocate federal funds for the next fiscal year, lawmakers face some of their most vexing dilemmas in the bill that appropriates funds for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, which provides the bulk of federal domestic spending.
There are many miles (and, more literally, possibly several months) to go before the federal budgeting process for the 2009 fiscal year is complete, and therefore much could change. But based on the initial signs, the latest of which came Tuesday when a Senate appropriations subcommittee drafted a spending bill for education, health and labor programs, the National Institutes of Health appears to be in line for the sort of hefty increase that biomedical research advocates have been begging for. Most student aid programs, however, would receive no new funds.
House economic stimulus package would provide as much as $20 billion for students, $8 billion for scientific research, $9 billion for academic facilities, and $39 billion for states to soften blow of education budget cuts.