Senate Passes Spending Bill

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Senate passed an omnibus spending bill Monday night by a 84-15 vote that came just hours before the beginning of the new fiscal year. President Clinton has said he will sign the bill before the midnight deadline, averting what would have been the third government shutdown in the past year. Unlike last year, when budget battles led to two government shutdowns that proved to be politically costly to Republicans, the GOP leadership this time for the most part gave in to Democratic demands. The bill is similar to the $389 billion measure passed overwhelmingly by the House on Saturday, in which Republicans acceded to requests by the President for an additional $6.5 billion for schools, anti-terrorism and anti-drug initiatives. Republicans also agreed to remove language in an immigration bill that would have placed new limits on legal immigrants. The bill was the last major piece of business before Congress before it adjourns for the year. But Senate members eager to leave town to get an early start on campaigning have been held up by disputes over two smaller funding measures. One is a $19 billion bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration that Democrats say would make it easier for Federal Express to stop its truck drivers from unionizing. Throw in minor disputes about funding for national parks, and Senators may have to put off their flights for another day. -->