President Signs FY 2003 Appropriations Omnibus Bill

On February 20, nearly five months after the October 1 start of federal fiscal year 2003, the President signed into law an omnibus bill providing funding for the departments and programs covered by the 11 appropriations bills that were not completed by the October 1 deadline last fall.

The bill, which covers nearly all federal programs except for defense, Social Security and Medicare, came to a total of $397 billion. As reported in the last OMB Watcher, Vice President Dick Cheney was said to have played a lead role in ensuring that differences over funding levels – including the President’s conflicting requests that the bill accommodate added funding for military activities in Afghanistan and funding for the FBI and that the total bill not exceed his initial request of $387 billion – not further slow the bill’s completion.

According to an analysis from the Coalition on Human Needs, negotiators enacted a 0.65 percent cut to pack in the President’s subsequent intelligence and military funding, as well as to allow for some basic increases for a few education programs, drought relief for farmers, and Medicare payments to physicians. This is considerably less than the 2.9 percent originally used by Senate appropriators in passing their version of the omnibus bill in January. The final version of the bill also exempted Head Start, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC), and medical payments by the Veterans Administration.

For additional overviews of the final FY 2003 appropriations, see the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee Press Release, as well as this response from the Democratic staff of the House Appropriations Committee.

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