Senate approves huge 2013 spending bill

Andrew Taylor, Associated Press
March 20, 2013
Senate approves huge 2013 spending bill

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate pressed ahead Wednesday on a huge, bipartisan spending bill aimed at keeping the government running through September and ruling out the chance of a government shutdown later this month. Blunt said he's been promised a vote on an amendment — eagerly sought by the meatpacking and poultry industries — that would offer them relief from food inspector furloughs that threaten to intermittently shutter plants. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate has passed a huge spending bill to keep the government open through the end of September, preventing a government shutdown but leaving in place automatic spending cuts that will mean job furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

The bipartisan 73-26 vote sends the measure to the House, which is expected to approve it on Thursday and ship it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The measure would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet agency through Sept. 30, provide another $87 billion to fund overseas military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and maintain a pay freeze for federal workers.

The measure gives the Pentagon much-sought relief from a cash crunch in accounts for training and readiness and gives veteran health programs their scheduled increases.