The House early today gave final and overwhelming congressional approval to a stopgap omnibus spending bill that will reopen the federal government today after a three-day shutdown.

President Bush said he would sign the measure, which will fund government operations through Oct. 19 at the same level as in the fiscal year that ended last month, giving Congress another 11 days to come up with a detailed package of tax increases and spending cuts.

"The president will sign the continuing resolution {the stopgap bill} this morning. The government can resume operations. All federal employees should report to work this morning," White House spokeswoman Laura Melillo said.

The Senate approved the measure by a voice vote last night, and three hours later, about 1:30 a.m., the House passed it on a vote of 362 to 3.

"We've got to keep this country running," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.) said in the brief debate preceding the vote. Added Rep. Silvio O. Conte (R-Mass.), the committee's ranking Republican, "It is the responsible thing to vote for this."

The Senate early this morning also took the next step in the months-long effort to break the budget impasse, giving final congressional approval to the outlines of a five-year deficit-reduction plan that would save $500 billion, including $40.1 billion in this fiscal year. The vote was 66 to 33. Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) did not vote.

"Tonight we reap the bitter harvest of 10 years of national self-indulgence," said Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine). "We all know the problem and we all know the solution. And it has to begin here tonight."

The congressional action came amid fresh evidence of public disillusionment with Congress's handling of the budget. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of Americans believes that Congress and not the president is most to blame for the budget impasse that has brought the federal government to a virtual halt. {Details on Page A8.}

Last night's approval of the budget resolution was actually just an incremental step toward breaking the deficit-reduction gridlock between the White House and Congress.

The action set the stage for various congressional committees to fill in the blanks of the sketchy budget outline, determining the precise details of whose taxes would be raised and whose benefits would be cut in order to save $500 billion over five years.

"That's where the real battle will come," said Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.).

"We have brought this nation to the brink of fiscal collapse," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.) said during the debate. "This is not a shining moment for anyone. . . The citizens of this country are tired of it; I'm tired of it also."

Most offices are to reopen normally this morning after the three-day holiday weekend. Funding ran out at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and Bush rejected an initial emergency spending bill that would have kept the government functioning because Congress had missed its self-imposed deadline for approving a budget. The House failed to override his veto.

Administration officials had wanted to shorten the life of the new stopgap bill to next Monday. They argued that that would keep pressure on lawmakers to come up speedily with specific tax increases and benefit program cuts to implement the deficit-cutting plan.

But House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) resisted the change on grounds it would not provide enough time, and the final measure will expire Oct. 19. Foley has been angry with Bush for vetoing the previous spending bill and shutting down the government.

"You can just write this in every paragraph of my remarks, how totally gratuitous and unnecessary this whole fiscal crisis is," he said. "There is no reality to it other than as a presidential effort to, quote, 'Put pressure on the Congress.' "

The final measure will also extend the federal government's borrowing limit through Oct. 19, averting default on Thursday when $17.5 billion in Treasury notes come due.

The three House members who voted against the final measure were Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.), William E. Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) and Pat Williams (D-Mont.).

Bush and his top advisers wrestled with the question of whether to sign or veto the short-term spending bill throughout the day. The decision put Bush in a difficult position, with either choice likely to result in further resentment from the competing factions on Capitol Hill.

Bush also faced the prospect that he would be blamed for shutting down the federal government, with congressional Democrats arguing that they had met his terms by approving a budget resolution. But White House hard-liners have pushed brinksmanship for months in the talks, making it difficult to yield at this point in the negotiations.

"The president's stuck in a box," an administration official said.

Final congressional approval of the budget resolution, which does not require a presidential signature, sets the stage for congressional committees to begin work on the details of the deficit-reduction plan.

With scant GOP support, the House approved that measure at 1:30 a.m. yesterday on a 250 to 164 vote. Democratic leaders had crafted the plan from the wreckage of the agreement between administration officials and congressional leaders that the House rejected last week.

The budget resolution sets overall spending ceilings and targets for tax increases and benefit program cuts. Hill committees will make changes in permanent law to meet those targets in an often-quarrelsome process called "reconciliation."

The earlier budget agreement was dragged down by its politically painful policy proposals, ranging from higher taxes on home heating oil, gasoline, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages to higher out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries.

To make it more palatable to lawmakers and attract votes, congressional leaders stripped out the specifics, leaving it to congressional committees to make the decisions. "The biggest improvement is it gives flexibility to the committees," said Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.).

But the lack of precision bothered others. "It's a promise, not a program," complained Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), one of the negotiators who came up with the earlier, failed plan.

"It's just a shell, and you can look in that shell and see anything you want," said Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.). "I would not have voted for the summit agreement and I like this even less."

A group of GOP senators led by Pete V. Domenici (N.M.), the Senate Budget Committee's ranking Republican, planned to set a maximum tax figure and a minimum benefit program cut for the reconciliation bill.

The task of filling in the biggest part of that shell will fall to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees, which have jurisdiction over taxes and such benefit programs as Medicare and Medicaid. With the details left up to the panels, the process, which could begin as soon as today, will likely be a supermarket for lobbyists and lawmakers seeking to protect specific interests.

The panels will be asked to raise a net of $118.8 billion in new taxes over five years and save $55.6 billion over that time from benefit programs. In addition, they would be directed to produce another $20 billion in savings from any of the tax or benefit programs under their jurisdiction.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) said yesterday he believed lower capital-gains taxes in return for higher income tax rates on the wealthy could be part of the package. "I think that will be the trade," he said. "People who benefit from {the capital gains tax cut} will have to pay for it by an increase in rates."

Staff writers Helen Dewar and Don Phillips contributed to this report.