Senate approves $1.1 trillion spending bill

The Senate voted 72-26 in favor of a $1.1 trillion spending bill Thursday, easing the harshest effects of last year's automatic budget cuts. (Associated Press)

Congress gave final approval Thursday to a $1.1 trillion spending bill that eases the sharp budget cuts known at the sequester and guarantees that the nation will not endure another government shutdown until at least Oct. 1.

After three years of politically bruising and economically damaging battles over the budget, the bipartisan agreement to fund federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year passed with little fanfare.

The Senate voted 72 to 26 to approve the measure Thursday evening, after Republicans persuaded Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to drop a last-minute push to force another showdown over the Affordable Care Act, reprising the fight that closed the government for 16 days last fall.

The House overwhelmingly approved the spending bill earlier this week, and the White House signaled that President Obama would sign it by Saturday, in time to prevent museums, agency offices and national parks from locking their gates when the current temporary funding measures expires.

Lori Montgomery covers U.S. economic policy and the federal budget, focusing on efforts to tame the national debt.
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