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Senate approves $410 billion spending bill in 62-35 vote

WASHINGTON — The Senate gave final approval to a $410 billion spending bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year, a measure denounced by most Republicans as an example of reckless spending.

The Senate approved the measure by voice after a 62-35 vote to cut off debate. Sixty votes were required to shut down debate. Florida's senators split, with Democrat Bill Nelson voting to cut off debate and Republican Mel Martinez voting against.

Obama will sign the measure today, the White House said, but he will also announce steps to curb lawmakers' penchant for pet projects.

The $410 billion bill is full of lawmakers' pet projects and significant increases in food aid for the poor, energy research and other programs. It was supposed to have been completed last fall.

The bill ran into an unexpected political hailstorm in Congress after Obama's spending-heavy economic stimulus bill and his 2010 budget plan forecasting a $1.8 trillion deficit for the current budget year. And Republicans seized on Obama's willingness to sign a bill packed with pet projects after he assailed them as a candidate.

"If it had not been for the stimulus and the budget proposal it might have been … noncontroversial," said House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio.

The bill was written mostly over the course of last year but became a victim of partisan gridlock at the end of the Bush presidency.

Where money goes

Highlights of the $410 billion omnibus spending bill funding 12 Cabinet departments and lesser agency budgets for 2009:

Agriculture: $20.5 billion, including a 14 percent boost over 2008 for the popular WIC program that feeds infants and poor women.

Commerce: $9.3 billion, including $3.1 billion to conduct the 2010 census.

Education: $66.5 billion, a 7 percent increase over 2008 levels.

Energy: $27 billion, including a $765 million,

54 percent hike for advanced energy research.

Health and Human Services: $66.3 billion, including $30.3 billion for health research.

Housing and Urban Development:

$41.5 billion, including $24.5 billion for low-income and American Indian housing.

Interior: $10.1 billion, slightly more than 2008.

Justice: $26.1 billion, including a $715 million,

11 percent increase for the FBI.

Labor: $15.3 billion, including a 5 percent boost for employment and training programs.

State: $13.1 billion, a 3 percent decrease.

Transportation: $13.5 billion, plus $53.7 billion in highway and other transportation funding financed mostly through gasoline taxes.

Treasury: $12.7 billion, including $428 million over 2008 for the IRS, a 4 percent increase.

Senate approves $410 billion spending bill in 62-35 vote 03/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 10:41pm]
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