December 16th, 2010
11:17 AM ET

Congress faces imminent deadline to pass a spending plan

CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - With time running out on the government's authority to spend money, the Senate is expected to vote this week on a $1.1 trillion bill that would settle the issue for the rest of the fiscal year.

However, conservative Republicans oppose the plan and threaten to obstruct its progress by having it read out loud in the Senate chamber, which could take more than two days.

The House has already passed its version of the legislation in the form of a $1.08 trillion resolution that sets spending at the same level as last year.

Such spending authorization is necessary to keep the government running, and the current resolution expires on December 18. Both chambers will have to approve a common approach to prevent the government from shutting down after that.

However, deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans on policy means the size and shape of the measure remains uncertain.

The spending bill proposed in the Senate combines all of the various appropriations bills in a package that includes an estimated $8 billion in specific provisions, added by legislators, called earmarks.

While the total amount of earmarks is a tiny percentage of the overall bill, many Republicans and some Democrats have pledged to oppose all earmarks as a way to control spending.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who has become a leading voice of the Tea Party movement, said he and other conservatives would force the nearly 2,000-page Senate measure to be read out loud before it can be debated in order to ensure that everyone knows all the provisions it contains.

Full story

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