WASHINGTON -- The Senate gave final approval Thursday night to a fiscal 1994 housing spending bill, which includes $1.275 billion for the HOME program.

The legislation, approved by the House earlier this week, gives HOME an increase of more than 25% from its 1993 allocation of $1 billion. The 1994 appropriation equals the Senate's original proposal and is slightly higher than the $1.25 billion originally approved by the House.

The bill, which funds operations of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and various independent agencies, now goes to President Clinton, who is expected to sign it.

Created in 1990, the HOME program requires the federal government to match contributions that state and local governments make to low-income rental and home ownership projects.

Contributions that are eligible for federal matching funds include a state or locality's general obligation housing bonds as well as a portion of its multifamily and mortgage revenue bond issues.

Before approving the bill last Wednesday, the House took action that threatened to delay the measure. House lawmakers added an amendment killing funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's project to develop a new type of shuttle rocket booster.

In the original version of the measure, the House had not included funding for the rocket booster, while the Senate had voted to finance it. House-Senate conferees had sided with the Senate. By repudiating the conferees' decision on Wednesday, the House set up a potential clash with the Senate. But the Senate did not put up a fight, passing the bill on a voice vote without without further amendment.

In addition to avoiding a delay, the HOME program also escaped a possible cutback in funding. Lobbyists had been concerned that lawmakers might make a last minute move to shift some of the HOME money to a new HUD program to aid the homeless, but the shift never happened.

The appropriations bill also includes $4.4 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program in fiscal 1994. The amount is $176 million more than the level in the original House bill, and $400 million more than the fiscal 1993 appropriation.

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