Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) called on President Barack Obama Monday to veto the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that just passed through Congress.
Bayh was one of three Democrats who joined most Senate Republicans in voting against the bill, which combines six of the 12 annual appropriations bills for 2010. He echoed GOP criticism that the bill led to unsustainable spending levels.
The bill passed Sunday by a 57-35 vote. The bills included in the package are the ones for: the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development; the Commerce and Justice departments and federal science programs; the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services; military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs; the State Department and foreign operations; and financial services and general government spending. The legislation appropriates $447 billion in discretionary spending for those government agencies. It also includes more than $600 billion for Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Bayh decried the bill for increasing spending for those agencies by 8.1 percent over last year and for including 5,200 earmarks worth nearly $4 billion.
“At a time when families and businesses are struggling to make ends meet, for Washington to increase federal spending at four times the rate of inflation is just irresponsible," Bayh said. "And to have 5,000 pork barrel earmark appropriations in there, with politicians showing no willingness to cut back at a time when ordinary folks must -- well, that is just deeply wrong.
Congress needs to finish their appropriations work by Saturday to avoid a government shut down. That's the expiration date for a continuing resolution allowing government agencies to operate after the Oct. 1 start of the 2010 fiscal year on last year's spending levels.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that he has yet to speak with President Barack Obama about a possible veto. But Gibbs signaled that the president would be reluctant to send the bill back to Congress with the Saturday deadline upcoming.
Gibbs also defended the legislation, noting that the number of earmarks is down from last year.
"There's no doubt we still have got a long way to go," Gibbs said. "But I think one of the goals obviously is to keep the government functioning right now."