Senate passes bill to keep government funded

The $447 billion bill spending bill also features provisions to reinstate auto dealers closed down by General Motors and Chrysler.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Senate on Sunday approved $447 billion in spending for several Cabinet departments and other agencies for the 2010 budget year -- money needed to fund the federal government after the coming week.

On a mostly partisan vote of 57-35, the Senate approved the compromise omnibus spending plan worked out with the House, which passed it last week. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law to succeed the previous funding resolution that expires December 18.

The vote occurred in an unusual Sunday session as the Senate worked for the second consecutive weekend in a push by the Democratic leadership to complete work on a sweeping health care bill and also get the appropriations bill passed.

The omnibus bill, which combines six separate appropriations measures, provides money for for non-defense government agencies including the departments of Transportation, State Department, Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Justice for the fiscal year that started October 1.

A separate defense spending bill is expected to be considered later this week.

The omnibus measure also authorizes about $600 billion in mandatory federal spending on government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, funding that is set by formula and cannot be altered by Congress.

Republicans denounced the bill as bloated with wasteful spending. On Saturday, the Democratic-controlled Senate cleared a procedural vote needed to end a Republican filibuster and allow for Sunday's vote to take place.

According to the independent, nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense, the spending bill includes 5,244 earmarks -- or pet projects sought by members of Congress -- that total just under $4 billion.

"I demand the president of the United States keep his word, when he signed another pork-laden bill last March, to veto this bill," Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who lost to Obama in last year's presidential election, said before Sunday's vote.

Among its many provisions, the bill would allow the government to transfer suspected terrorists now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States to stand trial, and allow guns in checked luggage on Amtrak trains.

It also would provide auto dealers closed down under the General Motors and Chrysler restructuring an opportunity to be reinstated. The bill sets up a binding arbitration process that would let dealers present evidence that could allow them to reopen. To top of page

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