Going after Graham might be a bad idea


WASHINGTON -- A weekend government shutdown that neither party wanted was averted when Congress approved a compromise spending bill Thursday, as leaders overcame major defections by Republicans angry over what they considered excessive spending.

To the dismay of liberals, the measure also blocks Obama administration plans to impose stricter nutrition standards on school lunches.

The Senate sent the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature on a 70-30 vote, shortly after the House consented to the bill 298-121.

Though passage was by comfortable margins, the vote in both chambers highlighted GOP fissures over federal spending. House Republicans backed the legislation by just 133-101, while GOP senators voted 30-17 against it.

Many conservatives also were unhappy that the bill potentially would leave taxpayers on the hook for even more spending, because it would expand the size of mortgages that could be insured by the Federal Housing Administration in wealthy areas from $625,500 to $729,750.

The votes occurred against a backdrop of partisan gridlock among members of Congress' supercommittee, which has less than a week to try to agree to a debt-reduction plan.

Democrats supported the measure overwhelmingly, with only 20 in the House and none in the Senate voting "no." Liberals mocked a provision blocking Obama administration efforts to prod schools to put healthier foods on their lunch menus.

"What's next? Are Twinkies going to be considered a vegetable?" said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., who voted against passage.