Dems Pass $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Sunday

Senators pass omnibus spending bill GOP says was laden with "pork" projects.

December 12, 2009, 12:29 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2009 — -- The Senate voted to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill that rolled six bill into one large package, as Congress tries to wrap up its appropriations work for fiscal year 2010, which is already two-and-a-half months gone.

The bill contains $447 billion in discretionary spending to operate numerous government departments such as State, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, House and Urban Development, Justice, Veterans Affairs and others.

It also includes $650 billion in mandatory funding for Medicare and Medicaid, bringing the total price tag to roughly $1.1 trillion.

The bill now goes to the White House for the president's signature.

The vote cut largely along party lines, though Democrats Evan Bayh of Indiana, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Claire McCaskill of Missouri all voted "nay," while Republicans Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine and Richard Shelby of Alabama voted "yea."

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 both Democrats and Republicans.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted the "pork" in the measure, reading into the congressional record an ABC 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.

On Saturday, Democratic leaders had to keep the vote open for more than an hour to reach the 60 votes they needed to break a GOP fillibuster on the spending bill.

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."

ABC News' Kristina Wong contributed to this report.

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