Senate approves temporary spending bill; House to follow

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Senate Bill to Avert Gov't Shutdown Will Pass

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A temporary funding measure that would keep the government open past a midnight deadline easily sailed through the Senate on Wednesday and was expected to make its way shortly through a divided House and on to President Barack Obama.

The 78-20 Senate tally represented a vote of confidence for an approach engineered by top GOP leaders determined to avoid a government shutdown.

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That approach, favored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, has angered tea party lawmakers who wanted to use the must-pass measure to punish Planned Parenthood for its practices involving the supply of tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research.

Tea party anger directed at Boehner over the Planned Parenthood issue helped prod the Ohio Republican last week to announce he will resign at the end of October. His decision - and other House leadership races - have highlighted divisions between more pragmatic Republicans and a tea party wing that is increasingly dominant, especially in the rough-and-tumble House.

The House was slated to approve the measure Wednesday afternoon, but GOP leaders need Democratic votes to balance out opposition from tea party supporters of "defunding" Planned Parenthood.

Scenes from today's vote:

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Senate approves temporary spending bill; House to follow
An American flag hangs from fire truck ladders in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. The Senate passed a U.S. government spending plan hours before a shutdown deadline Wednesday as President Barack Obamas administration sought to facilitate talks with congressional leaders on a longer-term budget deal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, leaves after voting against a Senate stopgap spending bill that would avert a government shutdown, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. A temporary funding measure that would keep the government open past a midnight deadline easily sailed through the Senate on Wednesday and should shortly make its way through a badly divided House and on to President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. points while talking with visitors on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. A temporary funding measure that would keep the government open past a midnight deadline easily sailed through the Senate on Wednesday and should shortly make its way through a badly divided House and on to President Barack Obama. Paul voted against the spending bill. The vote now goes to the House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. talks with visitors on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, after voting yes in a Senate vote that approved a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown. The vote now goes to the House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. speaks with a reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, after voting yes for a Senate approved stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown. The vote now goes to the House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, is interviewed as he leaves after a Senate vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. to approved a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. is at center/ . (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., talks on her cell phone in the Senate subway on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, after voting yes in a Senate vote that approved a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown. The vote now goes to the House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Capitol Dome, covered with scaffolding is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. On Wednesday, the Senate easily approved a stopgap spending bill to avert government shutdown; House to follow. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sits in the Senate subway on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, after voting yes in a Senate vote that approved a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown. The vote now goes to the House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., talks on her cell phone in the Senate subway on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, after voting yes in a Senate vote that approved a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown. The vote now goes to the House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Capitol Dome, covered with scaffolding is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. On Wednesday, the Senate easily approved a stopgap spending bill to avert government shutdown; House to follow. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., talks with reporters as she stands in an elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Ayotte is boldly taking on a role most of her fellow Republicans have shied away from: public foil to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Readying for what could be a tough re-election bid in an increasingly swing state, Ayotte has challenged Cruz as he has pushed the Senate to resist compromise and deny taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood even if it means a government shutdown.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, leaves the House Chamber after the House approved a stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government open, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Just hours before a midnight deadline, a bitterly divided Congress approved the stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government open, but with no assurance there won't be yet another shutdown showdown in December. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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The bill would prevent a repeat of the partial federal shutdown of two years ago and finance the government through Dec. 11, which will provide 10 weeks of time to negotiate a more wide-ranging budget deal for the rest of fiscal 2016, which ends on Sept. 30, 2016.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell said Tuesday that he and Boehner spoke with Obama recently and that he expects budget talks to get underway soon.

At issue are efforts to increase the operating budgets for both the Pentagon and domestic agencies still operating under automatic curbs that would effectively freeze their spending at current levels. Republicans are leading the drive to boost defense while Obama is demanding equal relief for domestic programs.

The conversation among McConnell, Boehner and Obama took place earlier this month - before Boehner announced he was stepping down. Many of the conservative GOP lawmakers who helped bring Boehner down want to preserve stringent "caps" on the spending bills Congress passes every year. But Senate Republicans are generally more eager to rework the 2011 budget deal that put them in place.

Boehner's surprise resignation announcement on Friday followed unrest by archconservatives in his conference who wanted to use the pending stopgap spending bill to try to force Democrats and Obama to take federal funding away from Planned Parenthood.

Instead, Boehner and McConnell opted for the pragmatic route - a bipartisan measure that steers clear of the furor over Planned Parenthood and avoids the risk of a partial government shutdown - over the opposition of the most hardline conservative Republicans.

Republicans have long targeted Planned Parenthood, and the group's top official appeared before a House panel on Tuesday to defend it in the wake of videos released this summer concerning its practices in providing fetal tissue for scientific research.

Republicans say the videos, made by abortion foes posing as private purchasers, show Planned Parenthood has broken federal laws including a ban on for-profit fetal tissue sales. The organization says it has acted legally and the videos were deceitfully edited.

Last week, Democrats led a filibuster of a Senate stopgap measure that would have blocked money to Planned Parenthood. Eight Republicans did not support that measure, leaving it short of a simple majority, much less the 60 votes required to overcome the filibuster. After last week's vote failed, McConnell on Monday orchestrated a bipartisan 77-19 vote on a funding bill - stripped of the Planned Parenthood provision - to force a final vote.

"This bill hardly represents my preferred method for funding the government, but it's now the most viable way forward after Democrats' extreme actions forced our country into this situation," McConnell said Tuesday of the stopgap measure.

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