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Obama to sign $410 billion omnibus for 2009
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President Barack Obama is expected today to sign the $410 billion 2009 omnibus bill, funding the government through Sept. 30. Obama is expected to sign the bill this afternoon, hours before the continuing resolution is set to expire at midnight.

Federal agencies, except the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, have been operating under a continuing resolution since Oct. 1, the start of the 2009 fiscal year.

The nine appropriations bills bundled together in the omnibus bill had stalled last year in Congress because of a veto threat from President George W. Bush. Democrats opted instead to pass the bills after President Barack Obama was sworn into office.

The House passed the omnibus two weeks ago. The Senate passed the bill yesterday despite flak from many Republicans who complained the omnibus contained more than 9,000 wasteful earmarks.

Obama expressed his disappointment about the earmarks in the bill but said he plans to sign it because it is needed to fund the government and make needed investments in infrastructure. He stressed that earmarks are a tiny part of the bill, and he used the bill as an opportunity to press for earmark reform.

Obama said earmark money should be held to the same competitive bidding requirements as federal contracts.

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