Senate Passes Omnibus Spending Package

Posted December 13, 2009 at 2:58pm

The Senate approved a $446.8 billion omnibus spending bill Sunday afternoon, marking a second consecutive weekend of votes for the chamber. The measure passed 57 to 35, largely along party lines, although three Democrats — Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Russ Feingold (Wis.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) — voted with Republicans against the bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) kept the vote open long enough for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to get back into town from his home state to cast a vote in favor of the bill. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the Democrats’ clutch vote Saturday on a procedural motion to end debate on the bill, did not vote Sunday on final passage. The Senate turned from its heated debate over an $848 billion health care reform bill in order to take up the omnibus spending measure, which includes funding for several government agencies. The measure funds the Commerce, Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, and State departments, but it does not include money for Defense. A separate funding measure for that department will be taken up later this month and is expected to include a controversial increase in the debt limit. Immediately following the omnibus vote, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continued his effort to push Democrats to schedule votes on a handful of amendments to the health care bill. McConnell filed a procedural motion on a drug reimportation amendment by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and called on Democrats to “get back on track— in considering GOP amendments to the bill. “There are amendments that the American people would like to see us debate and vote on,— McConnell said on the floor. “Hopefully we won’t have to have that cloture vote, and we can get back on track here.—