Bill to avert government shutdown advances in US Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bill to avert a partial U.S. government shutdown beginning this weekend cleared a first procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, as lawmakers scrambled to pass the measure through Congress before a Friday deadline.

The legislation is intended to give the Democratic-majority Senate and Republican-controlled House of Representatives more time to pass a $1.59 trillion spending measure for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

The Senate voted 68-13 to begin debate on the temporary funding bill, moving it closer to passage. Once passed, the House was expected to promptly consider it.

The bill would extend the pipeline for government agency funding at current levels but set two new expiration dates: money for agriculture, nutrition, transportation, housing, energy, military construction and veterans programs, now set to expire on Friday, would be extended through March 1.

Appropriations for the remaining agencies, including defense, homeland security and the State Department, which currently expire on Feb. 2, would be extended until March 8.

Congress was unable to meet its Sept. 30, 2023, deadline for approving a dozen spending bills for the 2024 fiscal year because of demands for deep spending cuts by a small band of hardline conservative House Republicans.

This bill is the third temporary spending measure this fiscal year.

A separate battle is being waged over an “emergency” spending bill to assist Ukraine and Israel in their wars against Russia and Hamas in Gaza, respectively.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone, Deepa Babington and Christopher Cushing)