Reuters

(Reuters)

Senate Democrats Block Defense-Spending Bill as Shutdown Looms

Politics Reuters

Democrats blocked the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, amid a fierce fight with Republicans over tax and spending policy days before a potential Oct. 1 government shutdown.

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The vote was 54-42, largely along party lines with Republicans voting yes and Democrats no. It meant the appropriations measure failed to achieve the 60-vote majority needed to advance to final passage in the 100-member Senate.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans are fighting over a range of tax and spending issues as the end of the fiscal year approaches.

In the case of the Department of Defense, Democrats oppose a Republican-led plan to use some $38 billion in special war contingency funds to let the Pentagon sidestep mandatory "sequestration" spending cuts put in place under the 2011 Budget Control Act.

A similar vote on the appropriations bill in June also failed.

The two parties also have been arguing over Republican-led efforts to include a measure to defund the women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood in any temporary funding measure to keep the government open.

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(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Eric Walsh)