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WASHINGTON -- A Senate panel wrote an agriculture spending bill Tuesday that would devote $4.64 billion to a nutrition program that feeds low-income women, preschool children, and infants -- $51 million more than a spending bill by the House.
Overall, the proposal by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on agriculture is similar to the House bill. It would give $17 billion to the Agriculture Department and to the Food and Drug Administration for next year's budget, but would be $872 million less than this year's budget.
Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah and chairman of the subcommittee, said Congress is under pressure to cut spending because of a growing deficit.
In addition, the panel is proposing to spend $784 million on the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is charged with inspecting meat at packing plants and at the borders. That's $1 million less than the House proposal, and $29 million more than this year's budget.
A program that pays for improvements to rural electric and telecommunications lines would get $5.6 billion -- an increase of $143 million from this year. It's also more than the $4.7 billion that the House bill would provide.
The panel's plan will go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.