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Senate clears way for passage of spending bill

By Paul Kane
In a surprisingly suspenseful vote Saturday, the Senate cleared a key parliamentary hurdle on a massive spending bill for almost half the federal government, which will provide tens of billions of dollars in increased funding for a host of federal agencies and the District of Columbia.

On a 60-to-34 vote, the Senate agreed to close off debate on the must-pass omnibus spending bill for agencies such as the Justice and State departments. First, however, Democrats held open the 15-minute vote for an additional 50 minutes so 92-year-old Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) could be wheeled in and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) could walk the 3 1/2 miles from his Georgetown synagogue on a cold winter morning.

Byrd has been ailing most of this year and votes only on important matters, and Lieberman, an orthodox Jew who honors the Sabbath by refusing to drive, rarely works Saturdays unless it is absolutely necessary. The duo cast the deciding votes to end the Republican filibuster.

"Shabbat shalom," Lieberman said to photographers as he entered the Capitol an hour after the roll call began. His topcoat still on, Lieberman wore an orange scarf and held his hat in hand as cast the 60th vote for the $446.8 billion spending bill. The senator attended morning services for the second day of Hanukkah, then walked to the Capitol, an aide said.

A final vote on the measure is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. With House passage of the measure earlier this week, President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill. All but three Senate Republicans opposed the measure, citing what they consider to be wasteful spending on domestic agencies in a time of war. Three Democrats -- Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) -- joined the Republicans in supporting a filibuster of the bill.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the No. 2 GOP leader, called for "a more responsible way" of handling the annual spending bills that are approved by the House and Senate appropriations committees, which handle a dozen different pieces of legislation each year for the federal government. Only five have been completed and signed into law, so this bill bundles together six of the appropriations bills into one massive measure, in what has become an annual legislative adventure.

Kyl said such a major bill becomes impossible to oppose, given that a widespread federal government shutdown would ensue. "If you can't get it passed on its own merits, then bundle it up with a whole bunch of other stuff," he said during the floor debate.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democratic leader, argued that the bill was filled with honorable spending increases in areas that the Bush administration ignored for most of this decade, citing in particular a $5.3 billion boost in funds for veterans' programs.

"These men and women need our help. This package of bills provides that help," Durbin said.

The legislation boosts spending for federal agencies almost 10 percent, on average.

Republicans have tried to tie the increased spending on federal programs to other areas of government expansion, including the financial bailouts and the proposed health-care overhaul, as the annual deficit has topped $1.4 trillion for 2009. Next week, the House will consider another critical spending measure, a $626 billion funding bill for the Pentagon -- traditionally a bipartisan vote -- that is quickly becoming a legislative Christmas tree with other must-pass ornaments attached to it.

Democrats expect to add an increase in the national debt limit to more than $13 trillion, as well as $70 billion in funds for a jobs package focused heavily on infrastructure programs, and extensions of normal federal highway construction programs and the Patriot Act. Republicans, who have traditionally supported all military funding bills, are considering opposing the omnibus defense bill because of the possible add-ons.

"We're going to see how they put the package together," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned after the Saturday morning vote.

Weekend sessions, once rare, have become increasingly common this fall and winter for the House and Senate, with the health-care debate consuming the legislative calendar and leaving little time to consider other key items. Aside from Thanksgiving weekend, the Senate has now worked three straight weekends. The usual decorum of suits and ties gave way Saturday to a flurry of casual attire, including Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) appearing on the floor wearing blue jeans.

By Paul Kane  |  December 12, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Senate , Today on the Hill , Votes  
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Comments

Is there any end to this outragous spending or must we simply wait for the Chinese debt collector to come to the door?

Posted by: jdonner2 | December 12, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Thank G-d they voted for more spending and more debt. This will give Obama another chance to break a promise by signing this bill.

We'll worry about the deficits tomorrow - until then - it's Bushes fault!!

Posted by: bandmom22 | December 12, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.

Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want, and their kids pay for it.

Posted by: inmanorj | December 12, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse


The bill contains 5,000 home-state projects (earmarks) which total nearly four billion dollars. John McCain listed many of the projects, saying “You are spending money like a drunken sailor, and the bar is still open. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said "We don't have this kind of money, we are borrowing it.”

Note the 5,000 earmarks amount to 100 per state average. Our politicians have no responsibility at all, and are ruining the country.
.

Posted by: Billw3 | December 12, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

With millions of American jobs being shipped out of the country annually the government has no choice but to deficit spend. Deficit spending is the wave of the future for the US.

Posted by: Maddogg | December 12, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

How did we get to this state? Well, business wanted cheap labor so we had Welfare Reform, then they wanted cheaper labor so they shipped jobs out of the country, then they wanted even cheaper labor so we imported cheap labor. So an and so forth.

This trend will continue until American's have had enough of being unemployed. Then we'll have a real revolution in the country..none of this Teabagger crap.

Posted by: Maddogg | December 12, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

A 10% increase for federal agencies. So much for any fiscal restraint. Obama and the Democrats cannot blame Bush any longer, they own the huge budget deficits, as well as growing national debt.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | December 12, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

When the balloon bursts I'd like to make sure we have a Republican in the White House. They deserve it.

I wonder how long it will take the Chinese to figure out the US no longer has a tax base to support itself?

Posted by: Maddogg | December 12, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Sure, that "Patriot" Act is more important than anything. The government has to be able to spy on all Americans at will, without warrants, without probable cause. Just because. Obama promised to modify the Big Brother parts of Bush's "Patriot" Acts but instead has caved in to everything the Republic Party and their nosey allies in the spy establishment wanted. Bye bye Fourth Amendment.

Posted by: mongolovesheriff | December 12, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

... we live in a dysfunctional country, with a dysfunctional government, in a dysfunctional world ...

Until attitudes change, the problems are only going to get worse.

The thing is nothing ever changes.

We're all screwed.

Posted by: riain | December 12, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

more deficits -> more jobs losses -> 2010 dems loss

P.S. nice deals/coupons site
---++ Electronics-Links.com ++---

Posted by: tl1970 | December 12, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The tenor of the votes in the Senate and the House are obviously not favorable to the GOP positions. I can just see their campaigns next year and the Dem statements... for example...GOP Senators vote against Medicare...GOP Senators vote against jobs programs...GOP Senators vote against help for the military. GOP House Representatives vote with the large Banks and against the voters. You can see it now. The current practice of voting against anything will not appeal in the numbers they need to take back the House or Senate. By the way McCain is out of touch here because alot of the "Member items" will go to Republicans and they won't even have the statement that the GOP is against 'Member items' because not only were they in favor of it when they were in power they made it into an absolute circus.
I think the GOP needs to begin to participate in the process because it is obvious now that they will not make this "Obamas Waterloo". Either that or they are simply nut cases at this point.

Posted by: AZdave | December 12, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Looks like I'm going to have to vote across the line against my party in the coming elections. The President would do much better with a Republican Congress keeping him in check.

Posted by: moebius22 | December 12, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse


To AZdave and Maddogg,

You prioritize political party, when the focus should be on which candidate would be more responsible. Both parties have allowed the situation we are in to occur. As Maddogg himself put it:
"Business wanted cheap labor so we had Welfare Reform, then they wanted cheaper labor so they shipped jobs out of the country, then they wanted even cheaper labor so we imported cheap labor."

Politicians of both parties should have been held accountable by voters.
.

Posted by: Billw3 | December 12, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The whiners kept their silence during Bush-Cheney's deficit splurge for war. Now they are aghast -- aghast, they tell us! -- that President Obama is forced to increase the deficit a)to pay for Bush/Cheney's two wars b)to shock our economy out of the brink-of-Great Depression II that Bush-Cheney left Obama.
These braying Obama haters and carpers are stupid, dishonest or a sleazy mix of the two.

Posted by: jimsteinberg1 | December 12, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The goverment will continue to run a deficit untill the taxes are rased to exceed spending. This may not happen for a long time. Atleast the next spending measure willincude help for the unemployed and a job creation package. Obama has already done more for the US Citizen than his previous president. Bush was very adapt at giving goverment contractors, ie Haliburton more money than it could waste!!!

Posted by: affordabletutor | December 12, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Where were you Republican whiners and babies when George W Bush was driving the economy over the cliff? Republicans, the party of accountability. Now that is nearly as big a lie as W's lie about WMD. Teabaggers on medicare snorting about gov't run health care, patriots who love America as long as it means sending someone else's kid to die (chicken hawks like DICK Cheney), bankrupting the United States--you are one depraved party of knuckleheads. Had the spending bill not passed, you'd be yelling about your entitlements.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | December 12, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Just another nail in the Democrats coffin.

Come on 2010 :-)

Posted by: frankn1 | December 12, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

This is again irresponsible politicians at work. I watched the "debate" on C-Span and McCain and Kyl made sense but the Democrats were not listening.
This "omnibus" of spending is sickening. Most disgusting of all is the pay increase for federal workers.
In CA, a LA County Supervisor is spending $770 thousand redecorating his office. The money spent by these crooks at every level is criminal and needs to be stopped.

As Jon Kyl - R / minority said, "we don't have the money, we are borrowing it."
And as Kyl said, the good things are packaged with the bad and when Republicans vote against the "bad", the Dems say Republicans are obstructionists who don't want to...help veterans, etc. So misleading --- and the reason that the Dems package these bundles with a little good and lots of bad -- most of which benefits them personally.

Just sickening!! But 60 stupid Dems think it's OK to take us to the poor house. Criminal.

Posted by: pjcafe | December 12, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The tenor of the votes in the Senate and the House are obviously not favorable to the GOP positions. I can just see their campaigns next year and the Dem statements... for example...GOP Senators vote against Medicare...GOP Senators vote against jobs programs...GOP Senators vote against help for the military. GOP House Representatives vote with the large Banks and against the voters. You can see it now. The current practice of voting against anything will not appeal in the numbers they need to take back the House or Senate. By the way McCain is out of touch here because alot of the "Member items" will go to Republicans and they won't even have the statement that the GOP is against 'Member items' because not only were they in favor of it when they were in power they made it into an absolute circus.
I think the GOP needs to begin to participate in the process because it is obvious now that they will not make this "Obamas Waterloo". Either that or they are simply nut cases at this point.

Posted by: AZdave | December 12, 2009 3:26 PM |

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU


You missed one of the most important campaign items...
The Republicans boasting that the democrats are the most reckless group in Washington as they sweep the elections. LMAO

Posted by: frankn1 | December 12, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

To AZdave and Maddogg,

You prioritize political party, when the focus should be on which candidate would be more responsible. Both parties have allowed the situation we are in to occur. As Maddogg himself put it:
"Business wanted cheap labor so we had Welfare Reform, then they wanted cheaper labor so they shipped jobs out of the country, then they wanted even cheaper labor so we imported cheap labor."

Politicians of both parties should have been held accountable by voters.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Indeed. It doesn't end there. Business owners wanted cheaper and cheaper and cheaper labor so to lessen the labor burden Bush put through massive tax cuts for business owners.

The US simply has no tax base left. The US is off the cliff and how much the debt ceiling is raised is irrelevant.

The prospect of creating enough jobs or well paying jobs to pay down the deficit is zero to non-existent.

Posted by: Maddogg | December 12, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

To medogsbstfrnd,
You are so concerned about blaming George Bush you are hurting yourself and your country.
Does anyone disagree that Bush messed us up? No we don't.
The point is that the Democrats are taking advantage of those of you, who like Obama and entire administration, want to keep talking about the past and blaming someone else for what they are doing now.
The earmarks in that omnibus bill will further contribute to killing our country.
Do your due diligence - wake up and stop looking to blame and help us stop this ridiculous spending by these 60 Democrats who are depending on comments like yours to justify their irresponsible spending.

Posted by: pjcafe | December 12, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.

Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want, and their kids pay for it.
________________________________________________________________

Pretty much sums it up. There's no Democrat in America that can point to Bush on deficit spending. They've mastered the art.

Posted by: RobParker | December 12, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

ALL incumbents you will LOSE in 2010 and 2012!Reid and Pelosi's lips are black from licking OVOMIT's bal.s!

Posted by: Sparky15 | December 12, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

the republicans make the money

and the democrats spend it

what's wrong with this picture?

Posted by: charlietuna666 | December 12, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Do these guys understand that we don't have any money to spend. I know how to live on no money coming in. All you have to do is vote and say no to everything. we will vote you out of office.

Posted by: makom | December 12, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

TEA BAG!!!!!!!

Posted by: bogardp | December 12, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

The whiners kept their silence during Bush-Cheney's deficit splurge for war. Now they are aghast -- aghast, they tell us! -- that President Obama is forced to increase the deficit a)to pay for Bush/Cheney's two wars b)to shock our economy out of the brink-of-Great Depression II that Bush-Cheney left Obama.
These braying Obama haters and carpers are stupid, dishonest or a sleazy mix of the two.
_________________________________________________________________

The fact that you post this shows the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party. You can't possibly complain about Bush deficits when this administration has quadrupled the deficits of any previous administration in history.

Liberal losers.

Posted by: RobParker | December 12, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's Tea Bag them all!!! That'll show those nazi communist democrats!!!! God forbid they find a way to pay for Bushey's wars, which created this deficit in the first place, erasing the huge surplus created by, aw nuts, a liberal spending democrat. But we're just going to ignore that cause OBAMA IS HITLER!!!!! TEA BAG!!!!!!!

Posted by: bogardp | December 12, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The current political system is broken and needs to be fixed. However, I don't believe, for a second, that the Republicans would change anything. They'd simply just divert money from one place and put it somewhere else.

And the voters are too blame too - they never want services cut but they never want to increase taxes either to cut the defecit. Politicians and the public love pet projects - it gets their state money.

Posted by: NoVAredsox | December 12, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I pretty much always choose a democrat female girlfriend. They usually have no means and try their hardest to TEABAG me the proper way. Suck hard democrats.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | December 12, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"I pretty much always choose a democrat female girlfriend. They usually have no means and try their hardest to TEABAG me the proper way." - charlietuna666

So that implies you try to find a girlfriend with testicles and you like it when your girlfriend with testicles puts said testicles in your mouth. you aren't called republitards for no reason.

Posted by: bogardp | December 12, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"I pretty much always choose a democrat female girlfriend. They usually have no means and try their hardest to TEABAG me the proper way." - charlietuna666

So that implies you try to find a girlfriend with testicles and you like it when your girlfriend with testicles puts said testicles in your mouth. you aren't called republitards for no reason.

Posted by: bogardp | December 12, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse
========================================

you forgot the "suck hard democrat" part.

lol. what kind of name of bogardp?

Is that your real name, DUFUS?

Posted by: charlietuna666 | December 12, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Dems are scumbags.

Posted by: theBozyn1 | December 12, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't suppose Congress would consider spending cuts. Nah. The fix is in. The Medicare Drug Benefit for Senior specifically disallows negotiations between the Feds and drugmakers on price. So taxpayers pay full gouge price for every tablet. What happens on Capitol Hill depends mainly on which deep pocketed enterprises have bought which campaign-needy members of Congress. What we need on Capitol Hill are problem solvers. None of those are evident there.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | December 12, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

It is clear that the Dummycr*ps are determined to destroy the USA. The question is why. The answer is that they are equally determined to 'change' our republic into a communist/socialist (aka Chavez and Castro) country. Watch for the upcoming 'scamnesty' bill to give nearly immediate citizenship to the illegal alien invaders --- the final nail in the coffin of America.

Posted by: segeny | December 12, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

How is this news that Democrats want to spend like drunken sailors?

If they had said "we need to cut spending", that would be news.

C'mon, this is like saying "Rain falls: Is Wet"

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 12, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

"Obama promised to modify the Big Brother parts of Bush's "Patriot" Acts but instead has caved in to everything the Republic Party"

So Obama *yet again* votes against his promise during the campaign, and it's still Bush's fault?

Funny stuff.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 12, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Please contribute to the annual Pothole Repair Program.

We tried to export the potholes to Afghanistan to place in roadways there, but they are too big for Afghanistan roads.

We are left with no choice but to repair them ourselves.

Posted by: Maddogg | December 12, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Is there any end to this outragous spending or must we simply wait for the Chinese debt collector to come to the door?

Posted by: jdonner2
===
Yes, cut off Medicare, Medicaid, funding for veterans, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Social Security, and Homeland Security to start with.

The Chinese cannot collect what we do not have

===
"Obama promised to modify the Big Brother parts of Bush's "Patriot" Acts but instead has caved in to everything the Republic Party"

So Obama *yet again* votes against his promise during the campaign, and it's still Bush's fault?

Funny stuff.

Posted by: Ombudsman
==

Indeed, given that Obama is the President and does not have a vote to *yet again* vote.

Posted by: HumanSimpleton | December 12, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

dick cheney said the deficit doesnt matter,so whats the problem?and george bush said in 2004. the loss of work to other countries,while painful in the short term will enrich the economy eventually.this is his report to congress feb 10 2004. so whats the problem? we must wait for a while longer.

Posted by: donaldtucker | December 12, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Spend, spend, spend, spend,Dépenser, passer, utiliser, épuiser, uitgeven, besteden, verspillen, verkwisten, أنفق, 度, 耗費, тратить, расходовать, затратить, тратить, Spandeer, harcamak, geçirmek (vakit), tüketmek, farbrengen. In any language, spend is spend and if you spend more than you make you go broke. Wake up congress. We have to vote all the clowns out or they are going to break us.

Posted by: tonyjm | December 12, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Is this the change we can believe in?

Posted by: FredKnowsBest | December 12, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"Democrats clear the way for massive spending bill".

Nothing more needs to be written. It's another Saturday and nothing's new with the left. But, 2010 is right around the corner just in time for MASSIVE Repeals.

Posted by: Patriot12 | December 12, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

It wouldn't hurt, in these tough economic times, to also include some "honorable" spending CUTS, Mr. Durbin. My family has made considerable cuts since last year, cutting up credit cards and cutting back on holiday travel. Why can't our government make sacrifices we the people must make? And of course they say the spending is necessary when times are tough, but when things get better, they'll still need that money.

Posted by: varapetra | December 19, 2009 5:23 AM | Report abuse

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