US Senate passes government spending bill
WASHINGTON -- Congress took steps Monday to avert a government shutdown, as the Senate pushed ahead on a stopgap spending bill to keep federal services running for a few more months -- and with no cuts to Planned Parenthood.
WASHINGTON - Congress took steps Monday to avert a government shutdown, as the Senate pushed ahead on a stopgap spending bill to keep federal services running for a few more months - and with no cuts to Planned Parenthood.
Republican leaders decided they had little choice but to abandon the effort to eliminate Planned Parenthood money, calling off plans to draw President Barack Obama into a veto fight over the issue.
With Wednesday's budget deadline looming, the Senate overwhelmingly advanced the government spending bill by a 77-19 vote. More than half the Republicans in the Senate joined Democrats to break the filibuster by conservative Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a presidential candidate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged the bill, which will keep government running through Dec. 11, was not his preference. But he called it a compromise to keep his promise to avert a crisis.
Final passage in the Senate is likely to come today. The House is expected to vote Wednesday.
The Senate vote came on the first day lawmakers were back at work after House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, abruptly announced he would resign rather than continue to fight conservatives.
House passage of the bill by Wednesday's deadline is not guaranteed. But after Boehner's move, it makes it easier for the embattled speaker to compromise with Democrats for passage.
Cruz, however, portrayed Monday's vote as another example of the compromises that are fueling "volcanic" voter anger with Washington.
"There is a reason the American people are fed up with Washington. There is a reason the American people are frustrated," Cruz said in a floor speech after the vote. His procedural move to alter the outcome was shot down by his colleagues.
Conservatives wanted to shift money away from Planned Parenthood after secretly taped videos showed organization officials discussing the use of aborted fetuses in medical research.
The government funding bill also includes $700 million to fight wildfires in California and other Western states.