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Senate closer to approving bill to fund government

WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan full-year funding bill took a big step forward in the Senate yesterday, despite opposition from Republicans who were denied chances to offer money aimed at addressing home-state problems like looming closures of air traffic control towers.

The legislation advanced on a 63-35 procedural vote that sets up a vote today to pass the measure and send it back to the House, which is likely to clear it later this week for President Barack Obama's signature. Ten Republicans, mostly members of the appropriations committee, joined with Democrats to send the bill over the 60-vote hurdle set by Republicans.

The sweeping 587-page measure would set a path for government, following across-the-board spending cuts that took effect March 1, and prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month. It covers the rest of the 2013 budget year, which expires Sept. 30.

The measure gives the Pentagon much-sought money for military readiness, but adds some money sought by both sides for domestic programs.

While Senate leaders like No. 1 Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada focused on the big picture, preventing a government shutdown, rank-and-file senators were sweating the small stuff, focusing on local concerns like keeping meat inspectors on the job, preventing furloughs at rural airports and trying to ease layoffs at Army depots.

The opposition was led by Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), denied a vote on an amendment shirting $360 million to military readiness, and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who wants money to keep air traffic controllers at six small airports in his states. -- AP

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