Lieberman Walks to Senate to Overcome GOP Filibuster on $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

Senators narrowly voted Saturday to cut off debate on an omnibus spending bill with $447 billion in discretionary spending.

The final vote will come Sunday afternoon.

The $1.1 trillion measure will essentially keep the government running but includes budget boosts to the Education Department, the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and others.

It bundles six of the 12 annual spending bills -- cutting off a lengthy appropriations process -- and combines $650 billion in government spending for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid with $447 billion in discretionary government operating budgets.

The measure boosts spending on oversight of financial markets, high-speed rail, small business lending programs and needle-exchange programs.

But included in the measure are more than 5,000 earmarks sought by Democrats and Republicans.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted the "pork" in the measure, reading into the congressional record an ABC News.com story that highlights the back-home spending projects.

Other Republicans argued the bill spends too much at a time when Americans are feeling the economic crunch.

"Obviously we need to run the government, but do you suppose the government could be a little bit like families and be just a little bit prudent in how much it spends?" said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

Democratic leaders had to keep the vote open for more than an hour to reach the 60 votes.

The last "aye" came from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent, who is Jewish and does not use automobiles on Saturday for religious reasons.

Lieberman could be seen on the Senate floor in his long coat and scarf, after walking to work.

The senator lives nearly five miles from the Senate and temperatures were near freezing in Washington this morning.

At a news conference Saturday Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., likened lawmakers -- who will have to vote to raise the debt ceiling above $13 trillion later this month -- as being "like drunken sailors saying they don't want the bar to ever close."

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