The Senate approved legislation today to lock in $85 billion in broad federal spending cuts and simultaneously avoid a government shutdown next week. If the House goes along, as expected, that means the across-the-board cuts set in motion by a failed earlier deficit-cutting effort and vigorously decried by President Obama last month, will remain in effect for the rest of the fiscal year through Aug. 31. Some adjustments will be made. Federal meat inspectors were spared furloughs, for example, as lawmakers in both parties alternately clashed and cooperated over proposals to take the edge off the deficit-fighting cuts that took effect on March 1.
The overall measure passed 73-26. A final House sign-off is expected as early as tomorrow, before lawmakers begin a two-week vacation. The legislation provides $982 billion for federal agencies to remain in operation through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year. The Senate pointedly rejected a call to reopen White House tours that the Obama administration says had to be canceled because of the cuts. (Read more Senate stories.)