Published December 13, 2009
The Senate passed on Sunday a massive spending bill that wraps up $1.1 trillion of the $3.6 trillion annual budget for fiscal year 2010, which started Oct. 1.
The House has already passed identical legislation, and President Obama has indicate he'd sign it.
The 1,000-plus-page bill covers spending for the Departments of Education, State, Health and Human Services, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, among others. In all, six of the 12 spending bills Congress is required to pass each year is folded into one measure that raises spending for its designated programs by an average of about 10 percent, or well above the inflation rate.
The bill puts the government on track to create a $1.5 trillion deficit in annual spending projected by the Office of Management and Budget this past summer. Defense spending is the only appropriations bill remaining and is likely to get bipartisan support if it doesn't include an amendment attached by Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by nearly $2 trillion.
The Senate voted Sunday 57-35 on the legislation. Democrats Evan Bayh of Indiana, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Claire McCaskill of Missouri voted against the bill. Republican Sens. Thad Cochran of Missouri, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Richard Shelby of Alabama voted for it.
The measure includes $447 billion in operating budgets with about $650 billion in entitlement spending for federal benefits programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It pays for veterans' programs, the NASA space agency and the FBI. It provides a pay raise for federal workers and help for car dealers. It does not include Social Security and other Medicare health insurance entitlements
An estimated $3.9 billion goes to more than 5,000 home-state projects sought by individual lawmakers in both parties.
Republican Sen. John McCain issued a list of pork projects included in the bill and urged Obama to veto it.
Spending for the programs that didn't go through the regular channels includes millions for music and arts, fisheries and botanical gardens and transportation and medical research studies.
McCain noted $2.7 million goes to supporting surgical operations in Outer Space, a program studied at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
"Maybe we need to support surgical operations in outer space. Do we need it at the University of Nebraska? No," said McCain, who then added really only "Trekkies," or Star Trek fans, actually think the U.S. should pay for surgeries in outer space.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the spending vote marked "a black day for our nation."
But the second-ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said the measure restores money for programs cut under former President George W. Bush such as popular grant programs for local police departments to purchase equipment and put more officers on the beat.
The legislation also:
-- Includes an improved binding arbitration process to challenge the decision by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to close more than 2,000 dealerships.
-- Renews a federal loan guarantee program for steel companies.
-- Calls for federal worker pay increases averaging 2 percent.
Fox News' Trish Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.