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HOUSE OKS FUNDING FOR VETS AND DRUG WAR
2 BILLS AWAIT ACTION BY SENATE NEXT WEEK

The Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess next week to tackle a pair of bills that fund federal efforts against drug dealers and help financially ailing veterans programs.

The House on Wednesday approved a $3.7 billion domestic spending bill that would pour an additional $822 million into the government's anti-drug initiatives in 1989.The chamber approved the measure 227-197 on a party-line vote after majority Democrats beat back repeated Republican attempts to reject it.

GOP lawmakers found themselves boxed into voting against beefing up federal drug efforts because the Bush administration opposed the measure, arguing that it would supply more money than officials need.

House Minority Leader Robert Michel, R-Ill., called the legislation and another Democratic anti-drug proposal that was defeated "a two-headed malodorous swamp animal." He complained that the money in the so-called dire emergency spending bill - intended for drug efforts and other domestic programs - was "no more a dire emergency than the distinguished chairman's dry cleaning."

But Democrats, who argued that the drug problem affects everyone, prevailed.

"You can't walk the streets in Washington or any rural community in safety today," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie Whitten, D-Miss.

The White House has threatened to veto the measure because of its anti-drug component.

The House also voted 409-0 to reaffirm its support for a separate bill providing $1.2 billion for health programs, cost-of-living benefit increases, and other programs for veterans.