Bills duel over billions for broadband or health IT

The Senate's version of the economic stimulus package contains billions in more funding for broadband and more direct spending for health information technology than the House's version.

The Senate Appropriations Committee package includes $9 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s program to improve access to broadband, according to a Jan. 26 news release from the committee. By comparison, the House Appropriations Committee bill has $6 billion for broadband networks.

The Senate appropriations bill would allocate $5 billion in direct spending for health IT through the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, in comparison to $2 billion in the House package.  The Senate appropriations bill is expected to be supplemented with tax benefits. With tax provisions included, the House bill is expected to total $20 billion for health IT, and the Senate bill, $23 billion.

The Senate Appropriations Committee package includes $9 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s program to improve access to broadband, according to a Jan. 26 news release from the committee. By comparison, the House Appropriations Committee bill has $6 billion for broadband networks.

The Senate bill would allocate $5 billion for health IT versus $20 billion in the House version.

The Senate committee has approved parts of that body's stimulus package, as has House panel with the its version. Final votes in the both houses are pending; the separate bills would be reconciled into a final version that would become law.

Most of the Senate spending in the stimulus bill would pay for energy, school and highway investments and other infrastructure. However, IT-related and science-related items in the Senate package include: $3.5 billion to the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research; $1.5 billion for NASA, including $500 million for missions to provide data about the earth’s resources and climate; $1.4 billion for National Science Foundation research, infrastructure and competitive grants; and $1.2 billion for Transportation Security Administration for baggage screening and checkpoint security equipment at airports.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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