U.S. President Barack Obama says he is signing an
"imperfect" spending bill to keep the government running through September
The $410 billion spending bill contains funding for some 8,000 projects inserted by lawmakers for their home districts or states, a process known as earmarking. The cost of those projects totals more than $7 billion.
At the White House complex Wednesday, Mr. Obama said earmarks can be used to direct federal money to worthy projects. But he said said that on occasion, earmarks have been used as a vehicle for "waste, fraud, and abuse," with projects inserted at the last minute without review and sometimes without merit.
He called for earmarks to be open to review and public scrutiny, and said spending for projects must never be traded for political favors. He said if administration officials determine an earmark has no legitimate purpose, then his government will seek to eliminate it and will work with Congress to do so.
The president, who is expected to sign the bill Wednesday, called on Congress to enact reform of earmark spending, saying that he and the American people will not accept anything less.
A majority of Senate Republicans criticized the bill as being too costly. Fiscal conservatives in both parties objected to the large number of earmarks.
The Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday approved what is called the "omnibus" spending bill by a vote of 62 to 35. The House of Representatives had already approved the bill.
Mr. Obama said the bill is the final part of last year's budget, and that it must mark an end to the "old ways" of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability.