U.S. Senate OKs measure to avoid government shutdown

The U.S. Senate has passed a huge government spending bill, averting a government shutdown next week by funding agencies and discretionary programs through the end of September.

The bipartisan 73-26 vote Wednesday sent the measure to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve it as early as Thursday and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill keeps in place $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, while providing $87 billion to fund U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also keeps in place the current pay freeze for federal workers.

Those so-called sequester cuts took effect earlier this month, after Republicans and Democrats failed to compromise on competing plans for dealing with the growing U.S. deficit.

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