WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democratic-controlled Senate on Saturday cleared away a Republican filibuster of a huge end-of-year spending bill that rewards most federal agencies with generous budget boosts.
The $1.1 trillion measure combines much of the year's unfinished budget work - only a $626 billion Pentagon spending measure would remain - into a 1,000-plus-page spending bill that would give the Education Department, the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and others increases far exceeding inflation.
The 60-34 vote met the minimum threshold to end the GOP filibuster. A final vote was set for this afternoon to send the measure to President Barack Obama.
Democrats held the vote open for an hour to accommodate Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an Orthodox Jew who walked more than three miles to the Capitol to vote on the Sabbath after attending services at his synagogue in the city's Georgetown neighbor Lieberman wore a black wool overcoat and brilliant orange scarf as he provided the crucial 60th vote.
The measure combines $447 billion in operating budgets with about $650 billion in mandatory payments for federal benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. It wraps together six individual spending bills and also contains more than 5,000 back-home projects sought by lawmakers in both parties.