money pileThe Senate on December 13 passed a mammoth omnibus spending bill variously described as costing $447 billion or $1.1 trillion, depending on whether "mandatory" spending for programs such as Medicare and Social Security were included in the tabulation. The Senate vote completed congressional action, sending the legislation to the President for his signature. Dozens of federal agencies received average budget increases of 10 percent.

money pileHouse Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) stated on December 11 that the federal government must borrow at least $1.8 trillion more in 2010 if the United States is to avoid defaulting on its debts. This would be over and above the current $12.1 trillion national debt limit.

Librarians are virtually united in opposing the renewal of the Patriot Act provisions that are set to expire this December 31, 2009. Thirty-two state chapters of the American Library Association (ALA) have passed resolutions calling for Congress to allow Section 215 of the act to expire.

BernankeBen Bernanke appeared on December 3 before the Senate Banking Committee as part of the confirmation proceedings needed to approve a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chairman. He found some strong opposition and some fawning support among the Senators.

Three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire this New Year’s Eve. They granted the federal government wide-ranging powers of surveillance and seizure with few limitations.