US Senate passes $1-trillion federal spending bill

Washington, Dec 14 (DPA) The US Senate Sunday passed a $1-trillion spending bill that will keep federal agencies and social programmes operational until the end of September 2010.

The measure, which already passed in the House of Representatives and combines six separate spending bills, was approved by a 57-35 vote largely along party lines with three Democrats voting against it and three Republicans supporting it. It has now to be signed by President Barack Obama.

The bill includes funding for federal agencies in the areas of law enforcement, health, education as well as mandatory programmes such as Medicare for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor and Social Security. It includes $447.4 billion for agencies and departments, with the remaining going to social benefit programmes.

Republicans attacked the budget increases in the bill. “Washington is out of control in its spending,” said Florida Senator George LeMieux, a Republican. “We have a $12-trillion debt, a debt that our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay,” he said, criticizing the 12-percent spending increase, Bloomberg news

reported.

But Democrats said the bill would provide much-needed funds for key programmes struggling in tough economic times. “It represents the priorities of our nation. It invests in students, veterans, and law enforcement, just to name a few,” said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat.