DEVELOPING: The Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill late Saturday that funds the government through next September, averting a partial government shutdown and sending the measure to President Obama’s desk
The Senate voted 56-40 for the long-term funding bill, the main item left on Congress’ year-end agenda. The measure provides money for nearly the entire government through the Sept. 30 end of the current budget year.
The sole exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only until Feb. 27.
The final vote to pass the bill took place on Saturday night shortly after it was announced that a deal had been reached between Democrats and Republicans.
The breakthrough came just hours after the U.S. Senate passed a short-term bill Saturday afternoon that would fund the federal government through Wednesday night, easing growing concerns of a potential partial government shutdown.
The bill, which passed by a voice vote, bought lawmakers more time to comb through the separate $1.1 trillion long-term funding bill.
Lawmakers spent much of Saturday wrangling over not only the spending package but also Obama’s nominations to various judicial and administrative posts.
With the end of the two-year Congress approaching, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was pressing to confirm about 20 nominees to fill posts such as surgeon general, director of the Social Security Administration and federal judgeships.
The spending measure topped the remaining items on a quarrelsome Congress’ agenda. Others include renewing tax breaks for individuals and businesses and a government program supporting the market for insurance against terrorist acts. In one sign of progress, the Senate sent Obama a sweeping defense policy measure by a big bipartisan vote.
The controversial spending package was opposed by conservative Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for not challenging Obama’s immigration measures, as well as by leading liberals such as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. who have criticized the bill for repealing banking regulation.
Despite the opposition from liberals, the package won a personal endorsement from Obama and was brought before the Senate.
Obama acknowledged that the measure has “a bunch of provisions in this bill that I really do not like,” and said the bill flows from “the divided government that the American people voted for.”
Obama has sided with old-school pragmatists in his party like Reid, but split from liberals such as Pelosi and Warren. Warren blasted the measure in a Senate speech for the third straight day, saying it was a payoff to Citigroup, whose lobbyists helped write a provision that significantly weakens new regulations on derivatives trading by Wall Street banks.
“Enough is enough. Washington already works really well for the billionaires and the big corporations and the lawyers and the lobbyists,” Warren said. “But what about the families who lost their homes or their jobs or their retirement savings the last time Citi bet big on derivatives and lost?”
Another provision loathed by many Democrats — though backed by the Democratic National Committee — raises the amount of money that wealthy donors may contribute to political parties for national conventions, election recounts and headquarters buildings.
Democrats will lose control of the Senate in January because of heavy losses in midterm elections last month and will go deeper into a House minority than at any time in nearly 70 years.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Want something else to read? How about ‘Grievous Censorship’ By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed’s Blog