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EMERGENCY SPENDING PASSES SENATE, HEADS FOR HOUSE COMMITTEE

SHARE EMERGENCY SPENDING PASSES SENATE, HEADS FOR HOUSE COMMITTEE

The Senate passed a $3.3 billion emergency spending bill after rejecting an attempt to delay implementing parts of the new catastrophic illness law that have not taken effect, including new premium payments by senior citizens.

The Senate passed the "dire emergency" spending bill by voice vote Wednesday, sending it to a conference committee with the House, which last month approved its own $3.7 billion version of the spending bill.The Senate action set up a showdown with the House over several provisions, including the House approval of $822 million in anti-drug funding.

Last week, the Senate rejected several attempts to add anti-drug money, which is opposed by the White House.

In rejecting the one-year delay in catastrophic illness benefits and premium payments, the Senate instead passed a compromise "sense of the Senate" amendment urging study of the problems in the catastrophic illness law rather than postponing implementation.

The amendment asked the Senate Finance Committee by September to consider reducing the extra premiums, to consider delaying benefits that have not yet been implemented and to consider making participation in the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 optional.