The bill includes at least $69 million for Sacramento, including money to target methamphetamine sales, raise Folsom Dam, repair erosion sites along the Sacramento River, widen levees, extend the city's light rail system, and pay for school programs aimed at reducing the risk of obesity and chronic diseases.
Obama, who vowed to clamp down on earmarks during last year's presidential campaign, said that he backed the bill to keep the federal government operating. But he made it clear that he wants Congress to change its ways.
"So 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 that the American people have every right to expect and demand," Obama said.
California scored big with Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein advancing projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars, rejecting bipartisan criticism -- from Sens. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and John McCain of Arizona, among others -- that earmarks bloat the federal budget and should not be used by members of Congress.
"They support bureaucrats making all of these decisions," Boxer said. "But as elected officials, it is our job to know the priorities of our states. As long as we ensure that the process is transparent and there are no conflicts of interest, I think a small portion of our budget expenditures can be determined by members of Congress."
Boxer, who heads the Senate's environmental committee, got 115 California projects worth $178 million tucked into the bill.
With backing from both Boxer and Feinstein, the Senate approved the measure Tuesday night, sending it to Obama for his signature. It provides funding for nearly all government departments and agencies, which have had their funding frozen since October. As a result, none of them have been able to initiate new programs.
"This omnibus bill is long overdue," Feinstein said.
Local Democratic representatives said the spending bill will provide a much-needed boost to the economy.
Sacramento Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui said it would "lay the foundation for our prosperity for years to come" as she took credit for delivering the $69 million in federal money for the city.
"In the face of the current economic situation, it is vital that we continue to bring federal resources to Sacramento," she said.
And Napa Valley Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson touted his work in getting $3 million in levee improvements for West Sacramento, long recognized for its vulnerability to flooding.
"We need to rebuild our country and our economy, and investing in infrastructure projects that keep us safe from floods is one of the smartest investments that we can make," Thompson said. "The 44,000 residents of West Sacramento don't need to be told the importance of flood control projects. And building these levees will create many good-paying jobs in our community."
Call Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Washington Bureau, (202) 383-0009.