Last night the Senate approved a funding bill to keep the government functioning into March. A few hours later the House also passed the legislation and sent it to the President's desk to be signed into law.
On a 193-to-165 vote, the House backed a stripped-down measure that would freeze pay for federal employees, provide $160 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and head off cuts in Pell grants for college tuition. The Senate approved the bill hours earlier, 79-16.
Excluded from the measure were thousands of proposed pet projects known as earmarks, and provisions opposed by the White House that would have prevented a trial on US soil of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks who is being held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The bill goes to President Obama, who was expected to sign it before midnight last night, when a lack of funds would have forced a government shutdown.
The measure is needed because the Democratic-controlled Congress — in an unprecedented breakdown of the budget process — has failed to pass a single one of the 12 annual spending bills that fund the day-to-day operations of every federal agency.
The spending bill is expected to protect, at least temporarily, a large defense contract funding a jet engine that would be partially built in Lynn, Mass. General Electric, which makes the backup prototype engine to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, said the program would provide up to 400 jobs in Lynn.