U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) yesterday voted for the fiscal year 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, H.R. 3043.  The bill includes provisions that will expand health care access and college affordability.  H.R. 3043 passed by a vote of 276 to 140.

“Last night, House Democrats passed fiscally responsible legislation that will help improve access to health care for 2 million Americans.  This bill will make college more affordable.  It will help improve our schools.  And, it will provide needed funds for medical and educational initiatives in the Ninth District of Washington.  I was pleased to support this measure and I commend my colleagues for passing it.  The President should sign this bill,” Smith said.

H.R. 3043:

  • Expands access to health care for more than 2 million uninsured Americans. Invests in life-saving medical research by providing a $750 million increase for the National Institutes of Health.
  • Makes college more affordable by increasing the maximum Pell Grant by an additional $390.  This is the second such increase enacted by the Democratic Congress this year, with the previous increase raising the maximum grant by $260.
  • Helps raise the achievement levels of America’s students by providing $2 billion more than the funds allocated for 2007 and $1 billion more than the President’s request for No Child Left Behind programs. 

Also included in the bill were the following funds for projects in the Ninth Congressional District of Washington:

  • $200,000 for the Thurston-Mason County Medical Society’s Project Access for the uninsured
  • $150,000 for an institute for environmental sustainability in the workforce at Clover Park Technical College
  • $100,000 for facilities and equipment at Northwest Kidney Centers
  • $100,000 for the facilities and equipment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
  • $50,000 for after-school programs administered by Communities in Schools of Tacoma

The bill must now be approved by the Senate and signed by President Bush before it becomes law; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has issued a veto threat over the cost of the bill.  However, the legislation’s overall cost after adjusting for inflation and population is $2.9 billion below similar legislation passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2004.