* House, Senate must vote in favor of spending bill
* Temporary funding measure expires Friday
By Rachelle Younglai
WASHINGTON, Dec 12 U.S. lawmakers moved closer
to a deal on Monday to fund the government through next year,
potentially avoiding a shutdown that would have further damaged
Congress' tattered reputation ahead of the 2012 election.
The group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers
tentatively agreed on how to fund a wide range of government
functions from homeland security to protecting the environment,
congressional aides said.
Details were not immediately available and lawmakers were
expected to publish the massive spending bill on Tuesday after
hashing out remaining differences and assembling the
"There are still a couple of open items that need to be
ironed out. These aren't deal breakers or game changers but are
still important issues," said a Democratic spokesman for the
appropriations committee in the House of Representatives.
A Republican aide said the group had a bipartisan,
bicameral agreement in place on the entire spending package
though noted that they still had to "make sure all our Is are
dotted and our Ts are crossed."
The tentative deal comes after battles over how to trim the
country's massive federal deficits brought the government to
the brink of a shutdown and stripped the country of its top
Congress has managed to pass bills to fund housing,
agriculture, transportation and justice departments for the
fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012.
But the rest of the government, including the health and
education departments, are being funded by a temporary spending
measure which expires Friday.
"Nobody wanted to have this thing drag out much longer than
Friday," said Potomac Research policy analyst Greg Valliere.
As part of this summer's fight to raise the country's debt
limit, lawmakers had agreed to cap discretionary spending at
$1.043 trillion -- a $6 billion reduction from last year's
Regardless, Democratic lawmakers have been squabbling over
Republican attempts to restrict funding for the Obama
administration's health care act and consumer financial
protection bureau, among other things.
The House of Representatives and the Senate must vote in
favor of the spending bill in order to keep major parts of the
government operating beyond Friday.