WASHINGTON — A stopgap spending bill that's needed to avert a government shutdown on Friday advanced in the Senate as lawmakers prepared to head for the exits for the midterm elections.
The measure easily advanced, 83-15, Tuesday on a procedural vote that puts it on track to pass the Senate today, and the House could clear it for President Obama before the budget year ends at midnight Thursday.
To speed the measure through, lawmakers ignored administration pleas for add-ons such as $1.9 billion for "Race to the Top" grants to better-performing schools and more than $4 billion to finance settlements of long-standing lawsuits by black farmers and American Indians against the government.
A bid to use the measure to keep alive a grant program from last year's economic stimulus bill that many states are using to subsidize hiring of the unemployed was also left off the measure, known as a continuing resolution, or "CR," in Washington-speak.
"At the insistence of Republicans, who have refused to consider many important exceptions, we anticipate moving a clean CR that will clear the Senate and the House prior to the end of the fiscal year this Thursday," said Rob Blumenthal, a spokesman for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.
"There is very little market for new spending," said Chris Gallegos, spokesman for top panel Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
The measure would fund the government at current levels until early December, with only a few exceptions, such as funding to make sure there's no cutback in the number of flights protected by federal air marshals or cuts in the number of border patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border. There's also money for increased oil rig inspections in the Gulf of Mexico.
The bill is a reminder of the dismal performance by Congress in doing its most basic job — passing an annual budget and the spending bills for agency operations.