The US Senate appears likely to approve a $328.1 billion omnibus measure to fund discretionary spending at 11 departments and numerous agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The House approved the measure in December but many senators—Republicans and Democrats alike—refused to rush the bill through. Republicans had hoped to vote to approve the fiscal year (FY) 2004 consolidated budget bill on the Senate's first day in session from holiday recess yesterday (January 20), but failed to muster the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and bring the to bill to a vote. Still, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) yesterday predicted the Senate would pass the delayed budget bill within the next week or two, despite reservations concerning such politically contentious provisions as country of origin food labeling, overtime rules, and television station ownership.

Republicans yesterday warned that the unpalatable...

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