Senate expected to vote Tuesday on funding measure

The Senate is expected to cast a key procedural vote Tuesday on a spending measure freezing federal worker pay. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday evening filed a cloture motion to end debate on a continuing resolution, which would fund the government through March 4. A spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee said the vote on that motion would be Tuesday.

The Senate resolution also does not contain controversial language present in the Senate omnibus spending bill and House full-year resolution which would have prevented any transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. The language, objected to by Attorney General Eric Holder, would have prevented civilian trials of suspected terrorists and made it impossible to fulfill President Obama’s pledge to close the prison.

Sixty votes are required to end debate. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he and Reid had a deal on the funding measure, though a Senate Democratic aide said there are still some outstanding issues.

The 36-page measure provides a small increase of $1.16 billion over fiscal 2010 levels, 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.

Republicans had sought a simple resolution to keep the government funded until February, but Democrats are proposing a slightly longer term and some minor funding increases. 

Technically, the Senate continuing resolution is a substitute amendment to the House-passed continuing resolution, which would have funded the government through Sept. 30 and which contained dozens of changes to funding requested by the Obama administration, including new funds to implement healthcare reform and the Dodd-Frank financial reform act. 

The Senate resolution, however, does not include new funds for the implementation of the healthcare and Wall Street reform bills. 

The Senate resolution lacks most of these requests but does contain new funding to keep Pell Grant awards at the same level as in 2010, funds investigations of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and has $460 million more in funding for the Veterans Benefits Administration to prevent layoffs of claims processors.

Federal government operations are funded though Tuesday night under a continuing resolution enacted over the weekend. Last week, Reid was forced to pull a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill after up to nine Republicans who had previously expressed support withdrew backing for the bill.

Opponents of earmarks such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hailed the demise of the bill, which included $8.3 billion in such projects, as historic.

This story was updated at 2:01 p.m.

Tags Eric Holder Harry Reid John McCain Mitch McConnell

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