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With Spending Measure Still Slowed, Senate Takes a Break to Approve Ridge

Taking a break from the omnibus appropriations package, the Senate approved Tom Ridge as the country’s first secretary of Homeland Security on Wednesday.

The former Pennsylvania governor was confirmed 94-0.

Ridge, who has been serving as director of Homeland Security, takes charge of 170,000 employees and 22 agencies, whose restructuring constitutes the biggest federal reorganization in 50 years.

While Ridge’s confirmation was swift, work on the omnibus spending bill is slow and tedious Wednesday as more than 200 amendments to the $390 billion package have been filed.

Senate leaders hope that both Democrats and Republicans will agree to pare the list down so that a final vote can come Thursday.

The bill includes the 11 outstanding fiscal 2003 appropriations measures left unfinished by the 107th Congress.

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