Thursday, February 09, 2006

Error may snag $39 billion US spending-cut bill

Error may snag $39 billion US spending-cut bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A typographical error in a $39 billion domestic spending-cut bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday could mean another vote on the measure that passed only after Vice President Dick Cheney intervened with a tie-breaking vote.

The law, which sparked fury among Democrats and strong opposition from some Republicans in an election year, cuts funds for health care, student loan and other programs.

It passed the Senate only after Cheney cast his tie-breaking vote. The House passed it by a 216-214 margin.

A Senate aide said that a clerical error written into the bill as it bounced between the House and Senate resulted in the two chambers passing slightly different versions.

Legislation becomes law only when the president signs a measure that has been passed in identical form by the House and Senate. Aides in both the House and Senate said it was not yet clear how lawmakers would fix the problem.

In this case, according to the Senate aide, a "poor woman in the basement" clerk's office typed in "36 months," instead of "13 months" related to Medicare payments for oxygen tanks.

The Senate aide said the bill, as signed by Bush, contained the 13-month provision intended by both chambers. The legislation would save $39 billion over five years beginning this year.