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Panel OK’s $2B for Drug Programs

July 28, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Senate committee approved $3.2 billion in spending Wednesday for substance abuse and mental health programs nationwide.

The figure represents an increase of $773 million over current levels.

Under the bill, states would share up to $2 billion in block grant funds for substance abuse programs, up from the current $1.5 billion.

The measure also would authorize $450 million in block grants for mental health programs, as well as $796 million in discretionary funding.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the bill 17-1, sending it to the full Senate for further consideration.

Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., voted against the legislation because religious groups receiving federal aid to assist substance abusers could require their workers to follow its teachings. The panel voted 10-8, along party lines, to defeat a Democratic amendment that would have removed that provision from the bill.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., also includes $150 million for grants to help local communities help children cope with violence, $74 million for grants to assist youth substance abusers and $40 million for grants to help youthful offenders released from detention or suffering from emotional problems.

It also includes funding to help the homeless.

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The bill is S. 976.

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