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Senate rejects one IHS funding measure, passes another

The Republican-controlled Senate rejected on Tuesday a budget amendment that would have provided historic funding to the Indian Health Service (IHS).

Although Democrats were able to slash President Bush's $726 billion tax cut in half, they didn't muster enough support to increase the IHS budget by $2.9 billion for fiscal year 2004 and $38.7 billion in future years. A measure offered by Senate Minority Leader (D-S.D.) was defeated by a straight party-line vote of 48 to 51.

Instead, the chamber approved a 10 percent boost above President Bush's $2.89 billion request.

"This fight is not over," Daschle said after the vote. "The current health coverage provided by the IHS is entirely inadequate, and the small increase approved by the Senate today is not nearly enough to meet the existing need."

Daschle's amendment made changes to the 2004 budget resolution that would have been offset by a reduction in the tax cut. This was in contrast to the follow-up amendment, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, that uses other program funds to pay for the IHS increase.

The approved increase is still above the Bush administration's request, which tribal leaders say falls short of need despite two IHS programs scoring well on an assessment tool designed to reward federal programs. Compared to the amount enacted into law by the latest omnibus appropriations act, Bush's 2004 amount represents just a 0.7 percent increase.

The Senate amount has to be reconciled with the House's version of the budget resolution. Passed last week, the GOP-controlled House kept Bush's tax cut intact and did not contain the IHS provision.

Last year, the Senate and House approved more than $3 billion for IHS. But it was reduced early this year after the White House ordered an across-the-board cut to all programs. IHS ended up with $2.9 billion.

IHS is charged with delivering on- and off-reservation health care to more than 1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Relevant Documents:
Roll Call | Daschle Amendment: S.AMDT.361 | Campbell Amendment: S.AMDT.416 | Budget Resolution: S.Con.Res.23

MP3: Daschle on Senate Vote (March 25, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Sen. Tom Daschle - http://daschle.senate.gov
Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov
Department of Health and Human Services - http://www.hhs.gov

Related Stories:
Budget measure would double IHS funds (3/25)
Bush scoring tool impacts Indian programs (03/07)
Omnibus spending bill gains Bush approval (02/21)
Bush initiative to be scrutinized by Congress (02/18)
Grim expects nomination as head of IHS (2/11)
IHS positions being eliminated (2/7)
'Austere' health care budget cited (2/5)
Thompson releases new IHS budget (2/4)
Senate approves $390B spending bill (1/24)
Indian Country receives diabetes grants (12/11)
Court rebuffs tribes on contract funding dispute (11/27)
Congress approves $750M for Indian diabetes (11/21)
Northern Plains tribes see high infant death rate (10/30)
Navajo Nation challenges contract policy (10/04)
Reports address long-term elder care (08/20)
Bush appoints interim director of IHS (08/05)
Bush delaying pick for IHS post (7/23)
Report stresses importance of health insurance (5/22)
Poor Indian health blamed on federal failures (3/21)
IHS pressed to include tribes in reform efforts (02/28)
IHS budget cuts construction funds (2/12)

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