The House passed a $104.9 billion appropriations measure to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments yesterday after a low-key debate that was dominated by growing concern over the spread of the AIDS virus.
Before passing the bill, the House approved an amendment authorizing the surgeon general to close "any bathhouse or massage parlor which in his judgment . . . can be determined to facilitate the transmission of the AIDS acquired immune deficiency syndrome epidemic."
The amendment was adopted 417 to 8 despite arguments that it was unnecessary because the surgeon general already has authority to combat epidemics by closing suspect facilities.
In the only other major amendment adopted on the floor, the House voted to prohibit the Labor Department from enforcing until Nov. 14 a Supreme Court decision authorizing time-and-a-half pay for overtime worked by state and local government employes. The 30-day delay in enforcing the decision is designed to give Congress time to enact legislation softening the financial impact on the governments, some of which provide employes with compensatory time off instead of extra pay for overtime work.
As passed, by a 322 to 107 vote, the overall measure appropriates a total of $104.9 billion for the three departments during the fiscal year that began Tuesday. Of this, $6.7 billion is for the Labor Department, $79.9 billion for the Health and Human Services Department and $17.5 billion for the Education Department, plus another $800 million for independent agencies.
The total was $3.4 billion less than the spending authorized by Congress in the last fiscal year but $4.3 billion more than the Reagan administration requested for the three departments. Two programs accounted for much of the difference. The measure provides $640 million for the Labor Department's Job Corps, a program that the administration sought to eliminate. The bill also authorizes $4.9 billion in spending for various student financial aid programs in the Education Department, the same spending level as in the past fiscal year but $1.3 billion more than requested by the administration.
Congressional concern about AIDS was reflected in a sharp increase in spending to combat the disease. The measure authorizes $189.7 million for research, prevention and treatment programs, $70 million more than the administration requested and almost double the amount spent on federal AIDS programs last year.