Senate approves stopgap spending bill in 87-13 vote

The Senate on Thursday approved legislation to fund the government for three more weeks, sending the measure to the White House. 

The 87-13 vote gives President Obama, and congressional Republicans and Democrats, another short window to reach a deal on a measure to fund the government for the rest of the year.

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The outcome in the Senate was similar to a vote earlier this month that funded the government for two weeks. 

Only four more senators voted against the measure on Thursday compared to the earlier vote on March 1, when nine senators voted no. 

Nine Republicans, three Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) voted against the measure on Thursday.

The GOP "no" votes came from Sens. John Ensign (Nev.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Jim Risch (Idaho), Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Mike Lee (Utah). Ensign, Inhofe, Rubio and DeMint voted in favor of the earlier bill.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Carl Levin (Mich.) and Patty Murray (Wash.) were the Democratic "no" votes. 

While more senators voted against the short-term measure, the swing against the bill was not as dramatic as in the House, where 54 Republicans voted against their leaders on Tuesday despite a whipping effort. Only six House Republicans had voted against an earlier short-term measure. More Democrats in the House also voted no this week.

Republicans opposing the short-term measure have complained it does not include language blocking funding for the new healthcare law and Planned Parenthood. That language was included in a measure funding the government for the rest of the year that was approved by the House.

Republicans have also argued that it is time to move a bill funding the government for the full year.

The new measure will keep the government funded through April 8. If the two sides do not reach a deal by then, the government would shut down.

Republican senators supporting the resolution on Thursday said it would keep the GOP on a path to meet its target for reducing spending this year.

“I think it [the stopgap] keeps us on track to achieve $61 billion in cuts to federal spending for the remainder for this year,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in floor comments.

Some Democrats, however, voted against the measure and said it went too far in cutting needed programs. Rockefeller, for example, said the cuts simply went too far in reducing healthcare and other programs. 

The bill would reduce spending this year by $6 billion. Both the Obama administration and Senate Democrats supported many of the cuts.

The measure approved Thursday includes $2.1 billion in rescissions of funds that have not been used; $2.5 billion in earmark terminations and  $1.1 billion to financial services/general government programs.

This includes $276 million for a fund to fight flu pandemics; $225 million in funding for community service employment for older Americans; and $200 million in funding for Internet and technology projects.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the three-week stopgap gives Congress “time to find common ground” on a deal to fund government for the remainder of the fiscal year.

“We all agree we want to cut spending, which is why we have already met Republicans halfway,” he said in a statement. But he said the president would continue to oppose "harmful cuts," including in the areas of education and research and development, as well as "additions to the bill that have nothing to do with fiscal policy."

The House and Senate are set to adjourn on Thursday or Friday for a weeklong recess.

This post was updated at 4:05 p.m.