Senate Dems Defeat GOP Attempt to Filibuster $1.1T Spending Bill

The Democratic-controlled Senate on Saturday turned back a Republican effort to block a final vote on a huge end-of-year spending bill that rewards most federal agencies with generous budget boosts.

December 12, 2009
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Democratic-controlled Senate on Saturday turned back a Republican effort to block a final vote on a huge end-of-year spending bill that rewards most federal agencies with generous budget boosts.

The $1.1 trillion measure combines much of the year’s unfinished budget work — only a $626 billion Pentagon spending measure would remain — into a 1,000-plus-page spending bill that would give the Education Department, the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and others increases far exceeding inflation.

The 60-34 vote largely along party lines met the minimum threshold to end the Republican filibuster, a legislative maneuver to delay a final vote on a bill. A final vote on the spending package was set for Sunday afternoon to send the measure to President Barack Obama to sign.

Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an Orthodox Jew who walks miles (kilometers) to the Capitol when voting on the Sabbath, wore a black wool overcoat and brilliant orange scarf — as well as a wide grin — as he provided the crucial 60th vote an hour after the tally started.

The measure combines $447 billion in operating budgets with about $650 billion in mandatory payments for federal benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health coverage for the elderly, disabled and poor. It wraps together six individual spending bills and also contains more than 5,000 home-state projects sought by lawmakers in both parties.

The measure provides spending increases averaging about 10 percent to programs under immediate control of Congress, blending increases for veterans’ programs, the NASA space agency and the FBI with a pay raise for federal workers and help for car dealers.

It bundles six of the 12 annual spending bills, capping a dysfunctional appropriations process in which House leaders blocked Republicans from debating key issues while Republican lawmakers dragged out debates.

Just the $626 billion defense bill would remain. That’s being held back to serve as a vehicle to advance must-pass legislation such as a plan to allow the government’s debt to swell by nearly $2 trillion. The government’s total debt has nearly doubled in the past seven years and is expected to exceed the current ceiling of $12.1 trillion before Jan. 1.

The article continues at FoxNews.com.

Comments are closed.