Senate's Spending Freeze Thawed by a $182 Billion Bill

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The U.S. Senate has passed a spending bill to the tune of an estimated $182 billion "to fund the day-to-day budgets of five Cabinet agencies" after dragging its feet for months, the AP reports. Until Tuesday, the Senate had only passed one of the 12 spending annual spending bills it was suppose to have finished by September 30, which is the end of the 2011 fiscal year, The Washington Post reports. But this afternoon, a 69-30 vote approved a bill "to fund programs including transportation, space exploration, housing subsidies and the FBI for the 2012 budget year that started a month ago," according to the AP.

So is today's vote more than just political posturing? It appears so: according to The Post, Congressional leaders from both parties, hoping to avoid a government shutdown, have outlined "a complicated process to use the Senate bill approved Tuesday to accomplish the goal." Here's what that process will involve:

First, appropriators in both chambers hope to find quick agreement on spending priorities for the areas of government included in the bill.

Then, they could attach a resolution that would keep other areas of the government operating under the same spending policies as last year into December. With one vote--potentially the week of Nov. 14-- Congress could then settle spending for the year for some agencies while buying time to finish their work for the rest of government. 

Both Democratic and Republican members of the Super Committee, tasked with cutting long-term deficits, seemed somewhat optimistic going into this week, according to an earlier piece in The Post. "'I’m smiling,' [Democratic Sen. Patty Murray] said, before acknowledging it was a forced smile ... 'There is no change in the weight that all of us feel." "'You’ve got all that to do, and then determine when we’re gonna leave, based upon: It’s all gotta be done by the 23rd,' House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said." Of course there are still obstacles: "some House Republicans have indicated they will oppose any spending measures that don’t cut government even more," The Post says.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.