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(1) On Thursday, the House-Senate conference committee finished the job of reconciling the House and Senate versions of the LHHS appropriations bill (containing the OA mandate at the NIH). The committee also decided to yoke the resulting bill together with a second appropriations bill on Veterans Affairs. President Bush had threatened to veto the former, but expressed support for the latter. The idea, clearly, is to make it harder for him to veto the combined package. Earlier in the process, Bush threatened to veto a three-bill combo, but has not indicated his thoughts on this two-bill combo.
(2) An authoritative source tells me that the NIH provision in the final LHHS bill survived the conference committee intact. But I haven't been able to confirm this yet from a public source. If true, this means the OA mandate has cleared another major hurdle. The last hurdle remaining is the possibility of a Presidential veto.
For reasons not to despair in case Bush does veto the bill, and for some of our post-veto strategies, see my article in yesterday's issue of SOAN.
(3) When Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) withdrew his two anti-OA amendments to the LHHS appropriations bill, he and Sen Michael Enzi (R-WY) filed a "colloquy" or speech to be added to the legislative history. Its primary purpose was to influence the conference committee to strike or weaken the NIH provision before sending the bill to the president. Here's the text of the colloquy (from the Congressional Record for October 23, 2007), complete but for the opening and closing courtesies:
The conference committee decided to disregard the Enzi and Inhofe reservations.