Stopgap Spending Bill Advances in Senate

Politics Reuters

A compromise bill to fund the U.S. government for several months advanced in the Senate on Tuesday, reducing the possibility of a federal shutdown as lawmakers postpone a battle over spending until next year.

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By a vote of 82 to 14, the measure cleared the 60-vote hurdle required for most legislation to advance in the 100-seat Senate. The Senate is expected to pass the measure within hours.

The House of Representatives was expected to give the bill final congressional approval and send it on to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The measure would be a victory for Republicans, who hope to quickly push through dramatic budget cuts when they take control of the House next year.

Democrats had sought to lock in funding through October 2011, the end of the fiscal year. But Senate Republicans, under pressure from their conservative base, effectively killed that approach last week.

The spending measure lasts until March 4. At that point, Republicans will control the House and have a greater say in spending priorities as they write legislation to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

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House Republicans have said they want to trim $100 billion in spending for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. That goal could run into White House opposition, leading to threats of government shutdowns if Democrats and Republicans cannot reach a compromise.

The spending bill currently before Congress denies Obama the budget increases he had sought to implement the new tougher regulations on Wall Street and begin putting his sweeping healthcare reforms into place.

It would prevent pay raises for federal nonmilitary employees for two years, a measure proposed by Obama to show that he is willing to take steps to bring down a budget deficit that hit $1.3 trillion last year.

It would largely continue other government programs at their current levels.

Because Congress has failed to pass any of the 12 bills that fund government operations this year, lawmakers have resorted to repeated stopgap measures to keep federal workers on the job.