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Panel Passes $605.9-Billion Spending Bill

December 09, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved legislation providing $605.9 billion for federal domestic and military programs this fiscal year, moving Congress a step closer to enacting a deficit-reduction package.

The panel sent the measure to the full Senate after turning aside an amendment that would have provided $22.8 million in non-lethal aid to the Nicaraguan Contras through February.

Congressional leaders plan to send the giant spending bill--and accompanying tax legislation also working its way through the Senate--to President Reagan for his signature before Christmas. Language in the two measures is supposed to cut $30.2 billion from the federal deficit in fiscal 1988, which began Oct. 1, as part of a two-year, $76-billion deficit-reduction plan.

The Contra assistance amendment was brought up by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who complained that the spending bill contained no money for the rebels fighting the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Contras are receiving about $3 million per month under legislation that expires next Wednesday.

All Amendments Barred

But with committee leaders wanting to rush the bill to the Senate floor, the lawmakers voted 18 to 9 to bar all amendments, including the Contra aid language. The vote came after several senators said they would offer amendments of their own if the Contra provision was included.

The spending legislation is a combination of the 13 annual appropriations bills to keep the government operating in fiscal 1988. All of those bills are supposed to be enacted before the fiscal year begins, but that rarely occurs.

The House passed a similar $587-billion package last Thursday. But it did not reflect the deficit-cutting pact Reagan and congressional leaders reached last month. Instead, it contained language leaving the cuts for later negotiations between the House and Senate.

The Senate bill, however, divided $2.6 billion in spending reductions--needed to conform with the budget agreement--among the 10 domestic appropriations measures it contains. The rest of the savings were already included in the defense and foreign operations portions of the bill.

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