September 30, 2008 – President Bush on Tuesday signed a sprawling, stopgap spending bill to keep the government running for the next 12 months.
The president’s move, which came on the last day of the government’s budget year, was expected even though the measure spends more money and contains more pet projects than he would have liked. The legislation is one of the few bills this election year that simply had to pass.
The $630 billion-plus spending bill wraps together a record Pentagon budget with aid for automakers and natural disaster victims, and increased health care funding for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The measure also lifts a quarter-century ban on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, a victory for Bush and fellow Republicans.
Bush said he was disappointed with the way Congress handled the lumped-together spending bill. “There is much work to be done, and the Congress should not adjourn for the year without finishing important business on spending, taxes, and free-trade agreements,” the president said in a statement.
The huge bill, approved by the House and the Senate last week, has been overshadowed by the financial crisis gripping the country. The legislation settles dozens of battles between the Democrats who run Congress and the White House and its GOP allies.
The measure is dominated by $488 billion for the Pentagon, $40 billion for the Homeland Security Department and $73 billion for veterans’ programs and military base construction projects.
The administration won approval of the defense budget while Democrats wrested concessions from the White House on disaster aid, heating subsidies for the poor and smaller spending items. Automakers gained $25 billion in taxpayer-subsidized loans.