Senate Votes to Conclude Omnibus Debate

Posted December 12, 2009 at 9:37am

The Senate on Saturday morning voted to end debate on the $446.8 billion omnibus spending bill, setting the stage for a 2 p.m. Sunday vote on final passage.The cloture motion passed by a 60-34 vote. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in a floor statement prior to the vote that he would have voted no but instead had to leave early because of his wedding anniversary.Although this is the second straight weekend that the Senate will remain in session, this weekend lacks the drama that marked last Saturday and Sunday’s debates on health care.The omnibus bill is made up of six annual appropriations measures that have yet to pass separately. Historically, passage of an omnibus spending bill has taken weeks to accomplish as conservatives force votes on earmarks and rail against the amount of federal spending in the bill.But with the Senate consumed by the health care debate, this year’s omnibus has passed with virtually no public outcry and only token opposition from Republicans. Although the GOP did force the weekend session rather than agree to a Thursday vote, that decision seemed prompted by a desire to prevent Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from attending a fundraiser in New Orleans rather than an interest in debating the omnibus.Reid has essentially called a timeout in the health care debate while he waits for the Congressional Budget Office to provide a new score on a deal that he has worked out with various factions of his divided Conference.According to Democratic leadership aides, the Senate was expected to break for the day early Saturday afternoon and then shortly after the final 2 p.m. vote on the omnibus Sunday.