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House Oks Spending For Departments

The House voted to boost money to fight crime and illegal drugs while freezing or cutting other programs in a fiscal 1997 spending bill for the departments of Commerce, Justice and State approved Wednesday.

The $29.5 billion spending bill, passed 246-179, is up $1.7 billion from 1996 spending levels. Nearly all of that is accounted for by a $1.6 billion increase for crime initiatives, to $16.3 billion.

The House then began debating a $19.4 billion measure financing energy and water projects for next year. Final passage, expected today, would mark the chamber’s completion of all 13 annual spending bills for fiscal 1997, which begins Oct. 1, though Congress has yet to send the final version of any of the bills to President Clinton.

The energy-water bill, which distributes money for dredging and other water programs throughout the country, faces a Clinton administration veto threat because it reduces spending for energy research. A version of the bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee is more generous to energy programs but stingier toward water projects.

The Senate has not yet considered its version of the Commerce, Justice and State Department measure.

The House bill:

Provides $2.8 billion for enforcement of immigration laws, allowing for the hiring of 1,100 new border patrol agents and including $500 million to reimburse states for the incarceration of illegal aliens.

Increases spending for the Violence Against Women Act by $22.5 million to $197.5 million.

Provides $7.1 billion for the war on drugs, including a $176 million increase, 21 percent, for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Cuts funding in half for the Advanced Technology Program, which helps industry develop new technology, to $110.5 million. Republicans want to terminate the program.

Cuts funding for the State Department and related agencies by $118 million to $4.8 billion, funding peacekeeping at $332 million, down $27 million.

The House has passed 11 of the 13 appropriations bills needed to operate the government in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The Senate was working on its third spending bill Wednesday.

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