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Copyright 2000 The National Journal, Inc.  
The National Journal

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May 6, 2000

SECTION: CONGRESS; Pg. 1452; Vol. 32, No. 19

LENGTH: 570 words

HEADLINE: The Sausage Factory: House-Senate Committee Action, May 1-4

BYLINE: National Journal News Service


Hot Bills
Here is the status of major legislation on the congressional
front burner:
House: Approved a bipartisan patients' rights bill (H.R. 2723) on
Oct. 7, 1999, 275-151, and then merged it with an insurance
access bill (H.R. 2990).

     Senate: Approved S. 1344 with narrower reforms favored by
health insurers on July 15, 1999, 53-47.

     Outlook: The bill is in critical but stable condition.
Talks have yielded an agreement allowing independent reviews of
denials of care to patients in employer-sponsored health plans,
but disputes about the bill's scope and other issues hurt its
House: Approved H.R. 6 on Feb. 10, 268-158.
Senate: Effort to end debate on S. 2346 failed on April 27.
Outlook: Differences in the Senate seem irreconcilable, with
angry Democrats blocking passage because they've been unable to
offer either a scaled-back alternative or amendments to add a
Medicare drug benefit and pay down the federal debt.
House: Approved H.R. 1714 on Nov. 9, 1999, 356-66.
Senate: Approved S. 761 on Nov. 19, 1999, by unanimous consent.
Outlook: Under White House and industry pressure, House GOP
leaders now aim for mid-May to complete a final bill, which would
set a legal standard for e-commerce and online contracts. This
deadline makes it harder for House negotiators to continue
resisting Senate proposals that would limit legal challenges to
electronic transactions and add stronger consumer protections.
House: Approved H.R. 434 on July 16, 1999, 234-163.
Senate: Approved an amended H.R. 434 on Nov. 3, 1999, 76-19.
Outlook: With the explosive China trade debate due later this
month, top House GOP leaders stepped in to resolve lingering
disputes with the Senate over Africa trade. They won agreement on
a final bill that also includes a Caribbean trade initiative, and
then quickly set a May 4 House vote to get this matter off their
crowded agenda.
House: Floor action pending on last of four parts of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization (H.R.
Senate: Began debate on an omnibus ESEA bill (S. 2) on May 1.
Outlook: A fierce Senate debate is under way over who controls
how federal aid to schools is spent. Democrats want to
incorporate President Clinton's school spending priorities-and
possibly gun control provisions. A small bipartisan group is
exploring compromises, but the odds are against success.
House: Approved H.R. 833 on May 5, 1999, 313-108.
Senate: Approved amended version of H.R. 833 on Feb. 2, 83-14.
Outlook: Senate GOP leaders are ready to let the bill die if a
deal can't be reached with pro-consumer Democrats, who are
blocking their attempts to accommodate the House by untangling
the Senate bill from an amendment that raises the minimum wage.
With opposition mounting from unions and consumers, prospects of
breaking a Senate filibuster are fading.

     House and Senate authorizing committees went into battle
with the Clinton Administration over defense policy, but made
peace with military retirees by offering them new prescription
drug benefits. Meanwhile, as the appropriators began their annual
spend-and-cut ritual, House members felt the first nick

LOAD-DATE: May 9, 2000

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