WASHINGTON — President Obama signed a $410 billion spending package on Wednesday that boosts the budgets of nine federal agencies this fiscal year and supports a new Vietnam and China apparel import monitoring program.

This story first appeared in the March 12, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Obama called the bill “imperfect” because it contains thousands of pet projects of lawmakers, known as earmarks, but he said it was necessary to keep the government running. Obama vowed to place restrictions on the pet projects in future legislation and laid out an outline for reform.

The Senate approved the bill by voice vote on Tuesday night, after clearing a procedural hurdle with a vote of 62 to 35 to end a Republican filibuster. The new spending bill provides an 8 percent increase for nine government agencies, including the Commerce, State, Labor and Treasury Departments, as well as the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

The bill sparked an outcry among some apparel-importing groups over a provision in an accompanying report that urges the Obama administration to resurrect a Vietnam apparel-monitoring program and expand it to include apparel and textile imports from China. The domestic textile industry, which has lost thousands of jobs in the past decade, has lobbied for new restraints on imports from China and Vietnam, two major U.S. suppliers.

The Vietnam apparel-monitoring program administered by the Commerce Department to evaluate whether goods were being sold in the U.S. below market value or less than the cost of manufacturing, known as dumping, had expired in January.

The bill would also ban Mexican trucks from U.S. highways over environmental and safety concerns by ending a controversial pilot project that allowed 100 Mexican-based truck carriers to travel in the U.S. with reciprocity for U.S. trucks driving in Mexico.

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