Senate Moves Ahead With Funding Measure and Bailout Talks

The Senate on Saturday got off to a smooth start by approving a procedural motion on a funding measure for the federal government and announcing progress on talks toward a $700 billion financial stabilization plan for Wall Street.

Senators voted 83-12 to invoke cloture on a $630 billion continuing resolution to fund the government, which was necessary before the fiscal year ends on Tuesday. The Senate will vote this afternoon on the continuing resolution.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), seeking a separate vote on a $1.1 billion agricultural and environmental aid bill for Southern states hit hard by recent natural disasters, had threatened to force the funding vote to Sunday. But she relented talks after talks Democratic leaders. A vote on Landrieu's bill is now likely to come during a lame-duck session, her office said.

Reid said House and Senate negotiators worked until 3 a.m. Saturday on the bailout bill talks, and a final vote is hoped for by early Sunday.

"We may not be able to do that, but we're trying very hard," Reid said. "If we are going to be able to do what it appears we can do, it will resolve a lot of questions that people have around the country."

-J. Taylor Rushing