WASHINGTON - President Obama on Friday urged the Senate to ratify a $1.1 trillion, House-passed spending bill that has roiled his Democratic Party, judging it an imperfect measure that stems from "the divided government that the American people voted for."
One day after House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi publicly chastised him for supporting the bill, the president said there were provisions "I really do not like." At the same time, he said there were other portions that "fund health insurance, early childhood education, the fight against climate change, and expand manufacturing hubs to grow jobs."
He offered his assessment as Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid also announced support for the legislation, further underscoring the split inside the party. The Democrats will lose control of the Senate in January because of heavy losses in midterm elections last month and will go deeper into a House minority than at any time since 1928.
With lawmakers eager to wrap up work for the year, there was little doubt the huge spending measure would clear Congress within a day or two. To give the Senate time to complete action, Obama signed a 48-hour law overnight to keep the government funded through Saturday and prevent a shutdown that both parties have pledged to avoid. In case even more leeway was needed, the House passed a second stopgap bill that will run out at midnight Wednesday.
Nor was there much if any controversy over the spending levels in the spending measure, which would provide funding to keep nearly the entire government operating through the Sept. 30 end of the current budget year.
The sole exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only until Feb. 27. Republicans intend to try then to force the president to roll back a new immigration policy that removes the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.
But much of the controversy surrounding the bill concerned a variety of provisions relating to financial regulation, the environment, campaign financing rules, and more.
Pelosi and other Democrats objected most vociferously to a pair of them. One would raise the amount of money that wealthy donors may contribute to political parties for national conventions, election recounts, and headquarters buildings.
Generating far more unhappiness among Democrats was a section that would eliminate a new regulation that was imposed on the nation's banks in the aftermath of the 2008 near-meltdown of the economy.
The prospect of undoing that regulation inflamed liberals, including some mentioned as potential presidential candidates in 2016.