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Archive for Saturday, November 20, 2004

Deal reached on late spending bill

November 20, 2004

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— White House and congressional bargainers agreed to the last details of an overdue $388 billion spending bill late Friday, a measure that would slice President Bush's priorities and curb a wide range of programs.

Leaders were hoping the House and Senate would approve the mammoth measure today and edge Congress toward the end of its weeklong postelection session.

Clearing the last problems shortly before midnight, lawmakers agreed to drop language opposed by the White House limiting Bush's plan to let private firms compete for some civil servants' jobs.

Not everybody was happy. Nine female senators, all but one Democrats, were upset over a House-passed provision making it easier for hospitals and other health care providers to refuse to provide abortions, pay for them or offer counseling.

From the bill's modest education increases to its near-halving of Bush's foreign aid request for countries that embrace democratic change, the package is a vivid illustration of how the politics of surging deficits has crimped domestic programs.

To the dismay of outnumbered Democrats and many Republicans, the measure complied with overall spending limits Bush demanded partly by trimming every program by about 0.83 percent.

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