Obama signs bill to fund government through Saturday

Jan. 15, 2014 at 9:53 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- President Obama Wednesday signed into law a stopgap spending measure to fund the federal government through Saturday so senators can pass the U.S. budget.

The so-called continuing resolution, passed by the Senate 86-14 earlier Wednesday and the House Tuesday, gives the Senate until Saturday to vote on the compromise 2014 omnibus budget bill.

More than 25 Republicans joined Senate Democrats in voting for the short-term funding bill.

The joint measure was needed because the government would have run out of money at midnight Wednesday.

The Democratic-led Senate Thursday is to consider the $1.1 trillion spending bill that funds the government through September after the measure won approval Wednesday by the Republican-led House.

House members voted 359-67 for the bill, though 64 Republicans and three Democrats voted against it.

The Hill newspaper said some Republicans opposed the bill, resisting the restoration of some sequester cuts that were part of the budget deal late last year.

The bill allows discretionary spending to increase by $45 billion, as opposed to the sequester, which imposed across-the-board spending cuts, the Hill reported.

Lawmakers didn't pass a 2014 budget bill by Sept. 30, the end of the government's last fiscal year, prompting a 16-day government shutdown that ended with a continuing resolution that provided bridge funding to government agencies through Wednesday.

The trillion-dollar omnibus bill is actually 12 bills in one, totaling 1,582 pages.

The measure provides $1.012 trillion in discretionary spending for defense and domestic programs -- up from $986 billion last fiscal year.

It also includes $92 billion for emergency overseas funding for foreign refugee assistance, the war in Afghanistan and other operations, the Wall Street Journal said.

The measure provides for a 1 percent pay raise for federal workers and additional funding for the federal Head Start preschool program, and reverses some cuts to military veterans' pensions that were included in a broader budget agreement last month. Republicans failed to include a provision to strip funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The healthcare reform law, commonly known as Obamacare, will be funded sparingly -- keeping money for the agency implementing the law at 2013 levels and cutting $1 billion from a public-health fund Republicans said they feared the White House would use to bolster the law's online insurance exchanges.

No money is budgeted for some administration priorities conservatives opposed, such as construction of high-speed rail and a preschool development grants program.

Funding was blocked for new regulations supported by liberals, including a standard for energy-efficient light bulbs and livestock and poultry controls.

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