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Senate Passes Bill To Prevent Government Shutdown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

The Senate approved a short-term spending bill Wednesday by a vote of 78 to 20 that will keep the government funded through Dec. 11.

The bill now heads to the House, where lawmakers must pass it and send it to the president in order to prevent the government from shutting down at midnight. The administration has said it supports the legislation.

The Senate's actions help put to rest any lingering concerns that a fight over whether to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood would turn into an intractable fight prevented lawmakers from funding other operations. After a series of videos were released showing the organization's executives discussing the procurement of fetal body parts for medical research, some members of the GOP vowed to cut off all of Planned Parenthood's federal funding.

Last week, Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have stripped Planned Parenthood of taxpayer funding, while it also would have allocated money for the rest of the government. When that failed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky put a so-called "clean" continuing resolution on the calendar that would keep the entire government running (and would also continue funding Planned Parenthood at current levels).

But news that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, seemed to help convince lawmakers to put off the fight over Planned Parenthood funding until later in the year. When Boehner appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, he offered an unequivocal "no" when asked if there would be a government shutdown Wednesday evening.

The legislation sets up another fight in Congress in December when the current funding bill would expire. Republican leaders have already talked about using an obscure budget tool called reconciliation to end funding for Planned Parenthood when they write a longer government funding bill.

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