U.S. Senate votes funds to avert USDA meat-inspector furloughs

WASHINGTON, March 20 Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:35pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - Senators agreed to shift $55 million in funds within the Agriculture Department on Wednesday to avert the layoff of all U.S. meat inspectors this summer due to federal budget cuts.

On a voice vote, the Senate adopted the amendment as part of a government-wide funding bill. Leaders hoped to send the bill to passage later in the day.

"If it gets passed, we will apply it," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reports on Tuesday. Otherwise, he said, there was no way to avoid furloughs of all inspectors for a total of 11 days.