WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - The U.S. Senate approved on a bipartisan 72-26 vote a sweeping spending bill to fund the government through September and eliminate the threat of another government shutdown during that time.
The $1.012 trillion spending package, approved overwhelmingly Wednesday by the U.S. House, heads to President Obama, who will sign it before the current stopgap funding expires on Saturday.
The measure passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, despite opposition from outside conservative groups and chiding from lawmakers for moving a massive "omnibus" spending bill through Congress just four days after it was released.
The nearly 1,600-page package includes all 12 of the individual annual spending bills that cover all of the discretionary spending of the federal government except what it is mandated to spend on permanent programs like Social Security and Medicare.
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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., voted against it and said the bill was a "shameful way to do business."
"We cannot continue this process where massive, un-amendable, thousand-plus page spending bills totaling trillions of dollars are voted on two days after being made available to members of this body," he said.
The spending package is the result of the two-year budget deal reached in December that set top-line spending figures for the next two years at $1.012 trillion for fiscal 2014 and $1.015 trillion for fiscal 2015.
Lawmakers had only weeks to complete the spending bills for this fiscal year because stopgap funding expires this week. However, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said Wednesday that he intends to return to regular order this year, with a goal of approving the 12 bills individually and by the Sept. 30 deadline.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, echoed Rogers, saying Thursday that passage of the measure will "move this body one step closer to being the place we would all like it to be."
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