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Politics

House Sets $1.1 Trillion Budget

WASHINGTON — It’s now up to the U.S. Senate to pass a huge $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill after the Obama White House and Republicans joined forces to push it through the House over objections from Democrats that it would roll back bank regulations imposed in the wake of the economic near-meltdown of 2008.

The 219-206 vote late Dec. 11 managed to avert the threat of a government shutdown and the House passed a measure providing a 48-hour extension in existing funding to give the Senate time to act on the larger bill.

In a rare public rebuke of President Barack Obama, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she was “enormously disappointed” he had decided to embrace the bill, which she described as an attempt at legislative blackmail by House Republicans.

The White House noted its own objections to the bank-related proposal in a written statement. But officials said that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both called Democrats in an attempt to secure enough votes for passage of the broader measure.

The outbreak of Democratic bickering left Republicans in the unusual position as bystanders rather than participants in developments that coincided with the approach of a midnight expiration of existing federal funding.

Still, there was plenty of drama in the House on the final major bill of this two-year Congress.

Earlier in the day, conservatives sought to torpedo the measure because it would leave Obama’s immigration policy unchallenged. But Speaker John Boehner patrolled the noisy, crowded House floor looking for enough Republican converts to keep it afloat.

The spending measure was one of a handful on the year-end agenda, with the others ranging from an extension of expiring tax breaks to a bill approving Obama’s policy for arming Syrian forces fighting President Bashar Assad.

The $1.1 trillion legislation provides funding for nearly the entire government through the end of the budget year next Sept. 30, and locks in cuts negotiated in recent years between the White House and a tea party-heavy Republican rank and file.

The only exception is the Department of Homeland Security. It is funded only through Feb. 27, when the specter of a shutdown will be absent and Republicans hope to force the president to roll back an immigration policy that promises work visas to an estimated 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

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Associated Press writers Stephen Ohlemacher, Erica Werner, Alan Fram and Chuck Babington contributed to this story.

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