The panel also approved a $29.4-billion measure for the new Dept. of Homeland Security, up $536 million or 2%, from this year's total. The amount also is $1 billion higher than the amount President Bush requested for the department.

Within the "mil con" bill, $1.2 billion would go for construction and rehabilitation of military family housing, down from $1.3 billion in 2003, and $4.8 billion would be allotted for barracks, Dept. of Defense health care facilities and other projects, down from $5.6 billion this year.

The DOD base closure account is still alive. Under the House committee bill, the program would receive $370 million, more than 85% of which would be for environmental cleanup.

There has been no action yet in the Senate on any of the fiscal 2004 spending measures.

he first congressional action on fiscal 2004 spending bills was not good news for construction. The House Appropriations Committee on June 17 approved a $9.2-billion military construction measure that cuts spending by $1.5 billion, or 14%, from 2003's level.