Obama signs earmark-laden budget bill

March 11, 2009 at 4:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- The $410 billion budget -- criticized for its scope in spending and earmarks -- was signed Wednesday by President Barack Obama.

During a statement on earmark reform hours before he signed the bill, Obama said, "I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill because it is necessary for the ongoing functions of government."

Obama said the bill "completes the work of last year by providing the funding necessary for the smooth operation of our nation's government."

The budget document -- which keeps federal operations running through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30 -- includes more than 8,500 earmarks, or funding for specific projects sought by congressional members, costing roughly $7.7 billion. The measure also boosts operating budgets by 10 percent or more for some of the programs over 2008 levels. Both the earmarks and the amount of money included in the operations budget drew howls of protest from both sides of the aisle.

Obama earlier said he found it "ironic that some of those who railed the loudest against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own -- and will tout them in their own states and districts."

The measure, delayed by term-ending politics between the Bush White House and Congress, funds nine departments for activities that are not related to defense or homeland security agencies, whose budgets were funded last fall.

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