Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill, 56-40

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Bill Would Fund Most of Government Through September; Homeland Security Only Through February.

In a rare weekend session triggered by a conservative revolt against President Barack Obama ’s executive action on immigration, the Senate on Saturday night passed a $1.1 trillion government spending bill, sending it to the president for his signature and ending the final budget fight of a Congress riven by them.

Two days after intraparty divisions in the House threatened to derail the measure, a divided Senate narrowly passed the funding bill on a 56-40 vote. It was supported by 31 Democrats, one Independent and 24 Republicans. It was opposed by 21 Democrats, one Independent and 18 Republicans. Passage came after senators reached a deal to end an impasse, and then cleared a pair of procedural hurdles that could have killed the bill’s passage.

The fight over the spending bill was a fitting finale for a two-year congressional session that began shortly after resolving the so-called fiscal cliff of January 2013 only to devolve into an impasse that led to the first government shutdown in 17 years last October. A bipartisan budget deal reached late last year eased some of the partisan gridlock, but it will expire at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The catalyst for the 10-hour Saturday session was a decision by conservatives led by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah to object to the bill on Friday night over the issue of immigration. Their move did little to stop the funding measure, but it had the effect of bringing senators who thought they had the weekend off back to the Capitol.

What followed was a marathon grind of procedural votes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), frustrated that the conservatives had tied the Senate in knots, used the time to advance two dozen nominees that Democrats hope to confirm before they lose control of the Senate next year. The end of the session came in focus only after conservatives yielded, agreeing to a deal that speeded up a spending-bill vote and gave Democrats the chance to set up votes on the roughly 24 nominees, such as Mr. Obama’s pick for U.S. surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, who Republicans oppose.

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