U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in Washington March 11, 2009. Obama said on Wednesday he will sign a $410 billion bill to fund some government operations through Sept. 30, but it must mark an end to the practice of jamming spending bills with lawmakers' pet projects.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a 410-billion-dollar spending bill to keep the government operating until fiscal year 2010 begins on Oct. 1.
But Obama also acknowledged that the bill was "imperfect," stressing the Congress must stop jamming spending bills with lawmakers' pet projects.
"I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill because it's necessary for the ongoing functions of government," said the president at the White House. "But I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change."
"Let there be no doubt: this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability," Obama noted.
The massive spending bill, which included an estimated 7.7 billion dollars in earmarks, has prompted sharp critics to question Obama's pledge to end wasteful spending.
During the presidential campaign, Obama and Republican nominee John McCain both said they oppose earmarks.
Obama said on Wednesday that he believed future legislation could include reforms to make the budget process more transparent and trustworthy and rein in the use of earmarks.
"I believe as we move forward, we can come together around principles that prevent the abuse of earmarks," he said. "These principles begin with a simple concept: earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose."
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2009)