The House, torn by partisan divisions over money for the war against drugs, rejected a $3.5 billion emergency spending bill and returned it to House-Senate negotiators for new efforts toward compromise.
The 218-201 vote Wednesday on the fiscal 1989 supplemental spending bill was unexpected because the section triggering the most divisiveness - House demands for an extra $822 million in anti-drug money - was not included in the bill.Most House Democrats want to keep the extra anti-drug money in the bill, but President Bush has threatened to veto it if that provision remains in the final bill.
A total of 52 Democrats voted against the bill and 196 supported it. All but five of the 171 Republicans voting opposed the bill, which would provide additional money for certain "dire emergency" programs until the end of the 1989 fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Among the programs affected are veterans health care, student loan programs, payments to states for foster care programs, repayment to agencies for the cost of fighting fires in the West last year and money for U.N. peace-keeping.
Assistant House Democratic leader William Gray, D-Pa., blamed the defeat on Republicans who he said voted almost unanimously against the measure to skirt a tough vote later on the anti-drug money exclusively.
The House and Senate passed separate versions of the emergency spending bill, and House-Senate negotiators reached agreement last week on most parts of a final version.