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President approves stopgap spending measure

October 01, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — 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 said he would have liked.

The $630-billion-plus spending bill wraps together a record Pentagon budget with aid for automakers and natural disaster victims and increased healthcare 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 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 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 military budget while Democrats wrested concessions on disaster aid, heating subsidies for the poor and smaller spending items. Automakers gained $25 billion in taxpayer-subsidized loans.

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