U.S. Senate votes to open debate on first appropriations package

FILE PHOTO: House Freedom Caucus and others hold a press conference regarding federal government spending, in Washington
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By Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate, in a hugely bipartisan 91-7 vote, moved on Thursday to open debate on its first package of spending bills for fiscal year 2024, as the chamber seeks to move ahead with funding plans ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.

THE TAKE

The federal government continues to steer toward a partial government shutdown on Oct. 1, as none of the one-dozen appropriations bills have been worked out between the Senate and House of Representatives.

It also is unclear if enough House Republicans will support a separate, stopgap spending bill the White House has requested to keep the government operating beyond Sept. 30 when funds expire.

CONTEXT

* The Senate's bipartisan appropriations bills maintain the spending levels negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, but a faction of House Republicans have pressed for more cuts.

* The House has so far passed only one appropriations bill of the 12 total ahead of the deadline. A procedural vote for a second one was postponed on Wednesday.

* With Republicans holding a slim 222-212 majority, McCarthy can only afford four members of his caucus to buck the party line, unless he is able to secure support from Democrats.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Senate will hold a vote to pass the package in the next few days.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)