CNET News ~ Spending bill passes House
21 Oct 98 15:26:49 +1100
A story on CNET News this morning FYI.
Spending bill passes House
By Kurt Oeler Staff Writer, CNET News.com
October 20, 1998, 6:50 p.m. PT
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a last-minute, _500
billion spending bill for fiscal 1999 that includes several technology
industry-backed provisions as well as controversial Net content regulations.
The "omnibus" spending bill, which provides for 8 of 13 federal departments,
includes the Workforce Improvement and Protection Act to increase the number
of visas for skilled foreign workers, the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which
establishes a national three-year moratorium on "discriminatory" taxes, and
the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, which will make it possible to use
electronic signatures for federal forms submitted via the Net.
It also includes the Child Online Protection Act, which calls for commercial
Web site operators who offer "harmful" material to check visitors'
identifications or face fines and prison. Civil liberties groups believe
this to be unconstitutional, and have threatened to file a lawsuit as soon
President Clinton signs the spending authorization into law.
The House passed the measure by 333 to 95, despite complaints that the bill
was hurriedly assembled and contained too many last-minute additions. Each
of the four Net bills were in fact added during the end-of-the-term rush,
although three other high-tech bills (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,
the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act, and the Child Protection
and Sexual Predator Punishment Act) made it through Congress on their own
and currently await the president's signature.
The Senate is scheduled to take up the omnibus bill tomorrow. President
Clinton, who is expected to sign quickly to ensure the government doesn't
run out of money. The federal government has relied on consecutive
short-term spending measures since the start of the fiscal year on October
1. The most recent continuing resolution is to expire tomorrow.
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