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Senate vote: OK $85 billion cuts, avert shutdown

  • FILE - In this March 18, 2013 file photo, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate pressed ahead Wednesday on a huge, bipartisan spending bill aimed at keeping the government running through September and ruling out the chance of a government shutdown later this month. The developments in the Senate come as the House resumed debate on the budget for next year and beyond. Republicans are pushing a plan that promises sharp cuts to federal health care programs and domestic agency operating budgets as the price for balancing the budget in a decade. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON — The Senate approved legislation Wednesday to lock in $85 billion in broad federal spending cuts and simultaneously avoid a government shutdown next week — and pointedly rejected a call to even reopen White House tours that the Obama administration says had to be canceled because of the cuts.

If the House goes along, as expected, that means the across-the-board cuts set in motion by a failed earlier deficit-cutting effort and vigorously decried by President Barack Obama last month, will remain in effect for the rest of the fiscal year through Aug. 31.

Some adjustments will be made. Federal meat inspectors were spared furloughs, for example, as lawmakers in both parties alternately clashed and cooperated over proposals to take the edge off the deficit-fighting cuts that took effect on March 1.

The administration — as well as Republicans skeptical of White House insistence that certain cuts were mandated — picked and chose its spots.

"My hope is that gets done," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this week of the effort to prevent layoffs among inspectors that could disrupt the nation's food supply chain. That was a departure from the administration's general position that flexibility should ease all the cuts or none at all.


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