December 12th, 2009
12:51 PM ET
8 months ago

Senators prepared to vote on government funding bill

The Senate is prepared to vote Sunday on a massive spending bill.
The Senate is prepared to vote Sunday on a massive spending bill.

Washington (CNN) – The U.S. Senate is prepared to vote Sunday on a massive spending bill that funds several Cabinet departments and other agencies for the 2010 budget year - money needed to fund the federal government after next week.

On Saturday, the Democratic-controlled Senate cleared a procedural vote needed to end a Republican filibuster and allow for Sunday's vote to take place. The vote was 60-34. Sixty votes of approval were the minimum needed to move the bill to the Senate floor.

The omnibus bill, which combines six separate appropriations measures, would provide $447 billion for non-defense, government agencies.

Those include the departments of Transportation, State Department, Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Justice for the fiscal year that started October 1.

A separate defense spending bill is expected to be considered next week.

The omnibus measure, which the House of Representatives passed Thursday, also authorizes about $600 billion in mandatory federal spending on government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, funding that is set by formula and cannot be altered by Congress.

Republicans denounced the bill as bloated with wasteful spending.

According to the independent, nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense, the spending bill includes 5,244 earmarks - or pet projects sought by members of Congress - that total just under $4 billion.

Among its many provisions, the bill would allow the government to transfer suspected terrorists now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States to stand trial, and allow guns in checked luggage on Amtrak trains.

It also would provide auto dealers closed down under the General Motors and Chrysler restructuring an opportunity to be reinstated. The bill sets up a binding arbitration process that would let dealers present evidence that could allow them to reopen.

Senate Democrats kept Saturday's vote open for over an hour waiting for two tardy senators to cast the decisive 59th and 60th votes needed for passage of the procedural motion.

Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, 92, of West Virginia, arrived on the floor in a wheelchair at about the 50-minute mark to cast his aye vote. Several minutes later, Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, arrived.

As an Orthodox Jew, Lieberman won't drive on the Sabbath. He lives in Georgetown and walked - wearing a heavy overcoat and bright orange scarf - to cast his vote.

Neither senator was available after the vote to explain exactly why he was so late.

–CNN's Shirley Hung and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. don't do it until

    you read every line of the budget and know where every dollar is going

    that is my money you are wasting

    December 12, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Elizabeth Williams

    Wow. 600 Billion. With just under 4 billion going towards 5244 earmarks. Is it my imagination, or is that ratio actually pretty good? LOL! 4B is what percentage of 600B? Don't have my calculator. :) I don't support earmarks as a rule....but at least, SO FAR, this bill seems to have kept them somewhat under controll. But I'm going to have to go to the Taxpayers for Common Sense website to actually SEE what the earmarks are for.

    December 12, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Hammerer

    Congress has no problem spending $1.1 trillion (mostly for favors repayment) while the poor suckers working (if they still can find work) willbe expected to suck it up and do without to pay for this travesty os spending.

    December 12, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Bill

    I don't think this is right, considering SS recipients get NOTHING! A 2% raise for fed employees with 10+% unemployment and no relief in sight...2010 can't come soon enough!!!

    December 12, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Ken Alvestad

    REP-NO
    DEM-YES
    Same old thuing, can't think for them selves.

    December 12, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Hammerer

    Tell me one more time, which political party does Big Business own?

    December 12, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Todd

    better vote like your life dependes on it, your political life that is. Pass this and your fired!

    December 12, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. duckunder

    Nice try Republicans! Half of those earmarks are probably yours and you don't even have the guts to vote for it, knowing the Dems will. You'll sit on the sidelines and complain and blame while the pork money roles on in. Just once I would like to hear a republican say where they would make cuts to balance the budget, that would take a lot more than the $4 billion earmarked. Would it be social security, medicare/medicade, defence, transportation, education, Where? No, we will have to listen to a tirade on "pork", which you're getting your fair share of, and does very little to balance the budget. I really dislike the Democratic Party, but I'm beginning to hate the Republican Party.

    December 12, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. A. Smith, Oregon

    And the Republican Party of No ideas, No solutions, No help and No way tried to filibuster the bill into oblivion.

    The Democratic Party of Yes we Can, overcame the pathetic attempts by the Republican Party and voted in mass to end the filibuster.

    The 60-34 vote met the minimum threshold to end the GOP filibuster. A final vote was set for Sunday afternoon to send the measure to President Barack Obama.

    The measure works to combine $447 billion in operating budgets with about $650 billion in mandatory payments for federal benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. I doubt the Republican Party want senior citizens to know they entirely voted to stop the Federal Govt. from funding Medicare and Medicaid this year!

    The entire spending bill wraps together six other individual spending bills and in addition contains more than 5,000 back-home projects sought by lawmakers in both parties.

    Another defeat for the entire Republican Party, and another victory for the Democrat's and American people.

    December 12, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. sensible cape Coral Fl

    I can see the headlines now: "Bill passed WITHOUT any Republican support"

    December 12, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. Spend like you dont have it

    Washington and Obamas cabinet pushed and bailed out Wall Street.
    Then they bailed out GM.
    ( Funny how Ford ran thier company well enought o not need any bailout )
    They bailed out banks.

    When will it stop? The spending. I ask one simple question. Who will bail out the US government when all the people we owe money to come calling for thier money to be payed?

    December 12, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. aware

    Kill the bill! Wisdom is not a Dem attribute!

    Greed is their speed & the end justifies the means in their self centered, arrogant power grab! :(

    December 12, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. phoenix86

    The travesty of the Pelosi adminstration continues, as the cannot even live within their means, yet think they can direct everyone else to live according to the Pelosi / Obama social blueprint (also known as the Lowest Common Denominator).

    2010, almost hear and the Pelosi / Reid / Obama nightmare begins to come to an end.

    December 12, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. flavoter

    I have a quick worry What will prevent insurance companies from doing as they do with auto insurance. Charging higher rates based on credit scores. These scores are not trustworthy and easily munipulated, look at the number of bad mortgage loans which credit scores should have stopped but they were allowed.

    They will charge higher rates especially in low income areas and it will be a mandatory insurance / penalty if you don't caring this possibly higher priced coverage. This is just another method of preying on the weaker among us.

    It is simple sign me up if I don't pay my premium drop me simple and then report it to the required agency....

    What overhead Go to my account tick a box that states coverage terminated / suspended.... generate two letters one to the individual and one to the govermental agency that will handle it....

    Credit reporting is a major SCAM!!!!!

    December 12, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Kona

    This amount represents a 12% spending increase by Democrats. At a time when this country can least afford it. It's unreal, but completely telling. We'll see if the President's pledge to go through bills like this line by line with his veto pen is true, or was more rhetoric to get elected.

    December 12, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. Beth

    I can't imagine the Republicans giving two hoots for anything.

    December 12, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. Joe from Ohio

    The way to stop terrorists is to cut of their money. The way to stop the terrorists in Washington is to cut of their MONEY.

    CUT TAXES NOW

    December 12, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. unemployed by Obama

    spend more money we dont have as unemployment benefits run out. Harkin and Grassley have jobs on our Iowa tax dollars, we need to vote these over pork spenders out of office and we need to stop obanana from further destroying America. Tell the Congress spenders NO and tell them to STOP, NOW. Lets vote them out now and Impeach Obanana,

    December 12, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Paul from Phoenix

    My family has had to cut back on our spending because of the recession. WHEN WILL THE GOVERNMENT DO THE SAME??????????

    December 12, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. Bill

    Why doesn't Congress propose a CAP on "Ear-Whacks"? WE need to impose term limits and vot these people masquerading as representative of the people out of office..

    December 12, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Houston Mom

    When are they gonna address the issue of unemployment. They voted to extend benefits for millions but they neglected to fund it past 12/31/09. After the new year over 2 million unemployed Americans will not only lack the funds for food and shelter, they will have no phone for receiving that important "your hired" or "we'd like to interview you" call. They will lack the funds for gas to go to that interview, even if their car hasn't been repossessed by the bailed out banks.

    Congress: Take note, get off of your collective a$$e$ and take care of the American people who need you the most right now....or pay the price in the Fall.

    December 12, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |