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Congress Approves Boost to its Own Budget

The Senate voted this afternoon to boost its own budget, in spite of cries of protest from a couple Republicans on the chamber floor that the budget increase would be irresponsible and inappropriate in the current economy.

By a vote of 62 to 38, the Senate voted to approve a legislative appropriations bill. The House passed the bill last week by a vote of 217 to 190 with only five Republicans supporting it. President Obama is expected to sign it shortly.

A measure included in the bill will increase Congress's annual budget by 5.8 percent to $4.7 billion. The bill also includes, however, a stopgag resolution Congress needed to pass to keep the government funded through October. With the fiscal year ending today, the federal government would have effectively shut down for a month if the resolution had not passed.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor to protest the new funding included in the measure, which is detailed in Politico. It includes, among other things, $500,000 for a pilot program for senators to send postcards to inform constituents about their town hall meetings.

"Is there any member of the Senate that needs to send out a postcard to tell our constituents that we're having a town hall meeting? Really?" McCain asked with incredulity.

Additionally, Politico reported, funding for House office buildings would increase under the measure by 128 percent, to $84 million, with some funding for a new roof at the Rayburn House Office Building.

McCain blasted his colleagues for spending money on a new roof "while millions of American families risk losing the roof over their heads."

"People are having trouble making mortgage payments, putting food on the table.... and we go on spending," he continued.

McCain and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) attempted to no avail to curb the extra spending. Gregg particularly took issue with the money to "bail out the Postal Service."

"It is really inappropriate we should just ... spend $4 billion we don't have on the last day of the year," Gregg said.

Correction: The headline of this story initially said the budget was increased by $4.7 billion. It was, in fact, increased to $4.7 billion, as the story says.

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