Posted by | December 13, 2009 15:53 | Filed under: Top Stories

Democrats overcame a Republican filibuster attempt and passed a spending bill that is $650 billion in mandatory funding, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and $447 billion in operating budgets. Among the provisions:

-Includes an improved binding arbitration process to challenge the decision by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to close more than 2,000 dealerships.

-Renews a federal loan guarantee program for steel companies.


-Permits detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be transferred to the U.S. for trial, but not to be released.


-Calls for federal worker pay increases averaging 2 per cent.


Other highlights:

* Includes $1.11 billion, a 14 percent boost, to allow the Securities and Exchange Commission to hire 420 workers to oversee investments and financial markets. The agency has faced questions about its effectiveness after it failed to catch a $65 billion scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff.


* Provides $824 million for the Small Business Administration, a 26 percent increase, to support new lending to small businesses. Further efforts to encourage small-business growth could pass Congress in the coming weeks as part of an effort to bring down U.S. unemployment, which stands at 10 percent nationally.



* Includes a 50 percent increase to fight fraud in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Lawmakers say this could save $48 billion over the next 10 years.


* Provides $2.5 billion for high-speed rail intercity rail projects, on top of $8 billion signed into law earlier this year as part of the economic stimulus bill.


* Includes nearly $1.5 billion for new nonmilitary aid to Pakistan, proposed by Obama as one tool to combat extremism there.


* Has no money for an infrastructure bank requested by the Obama administration to finance large-scale transportation projects. Lawmakers said the $5 billion project was too complex to handle through a spending bill.


And this one, sure to inflame the right:


* Lifts a restriction that prevents Washington, D.C., from using public money to pay for abortions. Also would allow Washington residents to vote on a medical marijuana referendum, which has been blocked in Congress since 1999.

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Copyright 2009 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.