Senate ends debate on measure to fund government, 82-14

The Senate voted, 82-14, Tuesday to end debate on a continuing resolution to fund the government through March 4.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would work to schedule a final vote on the measure quickly. The bill will then head to the House where a vote is expected before the current continuing resolution expires at midnight.

The 36-page resolution provides a small increase of $1.16 billion over spending levels 2010, according to a summary produced by the Senate Appropriations Committee late Sunday.

It also includes the two-year freeze on federal civilian worker pay proposed this month by President Obama, but it does not include new funds for the implementation of the healthcare and Wall Street reform bills. 

The measure represents a major victory for Republicans who successfully forced Reid to abandon a plan to pass an omnibus 2011 appropriations bill late last week. The GOP now will have a chance to make deep cuts to 2011 spending starting in March if the resolution is enacted as expected.

The omnibus, which wrapped all 12 appropriations bills into a 1,924-page measure, would have provided $19 billion in additional government funding compared to 2010 spending levels.

While the omnibus had $29 billion less in funding than President Obama proposed in his budget message, Republicans objected to the inclusion of $8 billion in earmarks.

The resolution approved by the Senate represents a compromise. Republicans had sought a simple resolution to keep the government funded until February, but Democrats wanted a slightly longer-term measure with some minor funding increases. These include money to sustain the Pell Grant program.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in a prepared floor statement blasted a provision in the resolution that will allow the Navy to offer two contracts for 20 littoral combat ships.