Funding the government
President Obama signed a $410 billion bill to fund the government through September 2009, with federal spending boosted by 8 percent over last year. The final hurdle to the bill was cleared by a 62–35 Senate vote, with eight Republicans crossing party lines. The bill marks a sharp shift from the Bush administration, with large increases for food aid to the poor, green-energy research, and health care.
The measure was delayed after Republicans assailed what they said were 7,991 items, totaling $5.5 billion, earmarked for specific congressional districts. They noted that Obama had campaigned against earmarks last year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sponsored $76 million in earmarks, called the bill a “missed opportunity” to exert fiscal discipline. Obama said the bill was “imperfect” and that going forward he would oppose projects with “no legitimate public purpose.”