House cuts Denali Commission budget

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush included $40 million for the Denali Commission in his budget for next year, but a U.S. House committee eliminated three-quarters of the money on Monday.

The money is likely to be restored by the Senate.

''It's got a large amount of support on the Senate side,'' John Scofield, spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who recently lost chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, remains on the committee and supports the higher level of funding.

Congress is entering its annual appropriations season, when House and Senate committees start to move the 13 spending bills that will pay for the federal government's next fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

The Denali Commission, created by Congress at Stevens' behest in 1998, seeks to improve community facilities in rural Alaska. The commission focuses on replacing aging fuel tanks and building new health clinics.

Bush included money for the Denali Commission in two places: $30 million in the annual ''energy and water'' appropriations bill, and $11 million in the ''independent agencies'' bill. That mirrors the funding Congress provided for the current fiscal year.

The House committee eliminated the $30 million from the energy and water bill Monday. The bill will need approval by the full House before going to the Senate, but changes on the House floor are unlikely.

Differences with the yet-to-be-completed Senate bill will be worked out in a conference committee, where Stevens successfully defended the commission money from the House last year.

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