The Senate did its part today to stave off a government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution in order to keep the government funded.
The continuing resolution, known in Washington shorthand as the CR, is a stopgap appropriations measure. Congress is up against a March 27 deadline this time around to keep the government funded through September, the end of the fiscal year.
The bill passed with a vote of 73-26 and now heads over to the House of Representatives for final passage.
Important to note, especially in context of Senate Democrats' stripping out the assault-weapons ban within their gun legislation this week, is that the CR's base bill includes making four longstanding gun protections permanent.
Also included in the Senate's updated CR are many amendments that help alleviate the impact of budget cuts resulting from the so-called sequester. One bipartisan amendment passed today will shift money in the budget to avoid furloughs of food-safety inspectors because of the sequester.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., had an amendment that aimed to force the White House to reopen White House tours. The amendment would redirect $6 million in funds toward preserving visitor services and maintenance activities at national parks such as the White House and Yellowstone.
The amendment failed and Democrats argued that it would not have helped reopen White House tours, anyway.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said today, "those tours are governed by the Secret Service budget, which is not part of this amendment. So that would not be affected."
The Senate bill keeps the same spending levels as the House bill, setting the top-line overall rate of spending at $982 billion, down from $1.043 trillion the previous fiscal year, but adds three appropriations measures: for homeland security and commerce; agriculture; and justice and science funds.
Since the bill was tweaked by the Senate, it now must be passed again by the House of Representatives.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said that so far it does not look as though the Senate's changes to the CR will cause much of an uproar in the House of Representatives, meaning the bill as produced by the Senate could be easily and swiftly passed to President Obama for his final signature.
"I'll wait and see what the Senate produces once it comes off the floor," Boehner said last week of the Senate's bill. "So far, so good."