December 3, 2010 / 3:11 AM / 9 years ago

Congress votes to avert government shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress on Thursday extended soon-to-expire funding for the federal government for another two weeks, giving Democrats time to craft a more lasting solution.

The Senate approved a measure to extend temporary funding until December 18, one day after it passed the House of Representatives. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

Although the fiscal year began on October 1, the government has been operating on last year’s budget as Congress has failed to pass the 12 bills needed to fund government operations.

Current funding is due to run out on Friday.

The temporary funding has kept national parks open and aircraft carriers afloat but a wide range of research grants and other new initiatives have been placed on hold.

Senate Democrats have been working to wrap all 12 of the spending bills into one comprehensive package that would total about $1.108 trillion, which is $27 billion less than Democratic President Barack Obama requested.

They hope that figure will be low enough to attract enough Republican support to secure passage. But their efforts could be stymied by Republicans pressing for deeper spending cuts.

In recent days, Democrats have talked increasingly of a temporary funding bill that would cover the rest of the fiscal year, through September 30, 2011. That bill would contain changes to allow government agencies to move ahead with new initiatives that have been stalled so far.

Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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