Bush signs funding bill in final hours of the fiscal year

CongressDaily October 1, 2008

President Bush on Tuesday evening signed into law a more than $600 billion continuing resolution package that funds the federal government through March 6. It includes three fiscal 2009 appropriations bills and $22.9 billion for disaster relief.

"I am disappointed that the Congress passed a long-term continuing resolution," Bush said. "There is much work to be done, and the Congress should not adjourn for the year without finishing important business on spending, taxes and free-trade agreements."

But the president praised the bill for lifting bans on offshore oil exploration and oil shale production.

The bill funds most programs at fiscal 2008 levels but includes the fiscal 2009 Defense, Military Construction-VA and Homeland Security spending bills. Of the $22.9 billion in disaster relief funding, $7.9 billion goes into the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund.

The CR also grants a 3.9 percent 2009 pay raise to civilian federal employees.

And it provides $2.5 billion for the Pell Grant program, which gives aid to college students, and $5.1 billion for low-income heating assistance. A $25 billion loan program for the auto industry is also part of the CR at a cost of $7.5 billion.

The bill allowed an offshore drilling and oil shale exploration moratorium to expire Tuesday, the last day of the fiscal year.

The Senate passed the bill Saturday after the House approved it last Wednesday. The CR was needed because Congress had not passed any of the 12 annual appropriations that fund government programs. House Democratic appropriators grew discouraged with the appropriations process this year after Bush issued a pre-emptive threat earlier this year to veto any bill that spent more than he recommended.