Senate approves huge 2013 spending bill

Associated Press
Deputy Commerce Secretary for Resource Management Hari Sastry, left, looks over documents on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 19, 2013, during a break in his testimony in a joint hearing on sequestration held by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, and the subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has passed a huge spending bill to keep the government open through the end of September, preventing a government shutdown but leaving in place automatic spending cuts that will mean job furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

The bipartisan 73-26 vote sends the measure to the House, which is expected to approve it on Thursday and ship it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The measure would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet agency through Sept. 30, provide another $87 billion to fund overseas military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and maintain a pay freeze for federal workers.

The measure gives the Pentagon much-sought relief from a cash crunch in accounts for training and readiness and gives veteran health programs their scheduled increases.

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