WASHINGTON — Automakers gained $25-billion in taxpayer-subsidized loans and oil companies won elimination of a long-standing ban on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as the Senate passed a sprawling spending bill Saturday.
The 78-12 vote sent the $634-billion measure to President Bush, who was expected to sign it even though it spends more money and contains more pet projects than he would have liked.
The measure is needed to keep the government operating beyond the current budget year, which ends Tuesday. As a result, the legislation is one of the few bills this election year that simply must pass.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the bill "stands as a reminder of the failure of the Democratic Congress to fund the government in regular order." But, he said, it "puts the United States one step closer to ending our dependence on foreign sources of energy" by lifting the offshore drilling ban and opening up huge reserves of oil shale in the West.
The measure settles dozens of battles that have brewed for months between the Democrats who run Congress and the White House and its GOP allies.