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Government Shutdown: Spending Bill Clears Senate Hurdle

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The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen June 20, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)
The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen June 20, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

WASHINGTON -- A spending bill required to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month has cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate.

The bipartisan 76-22 vote is the first step toward opening debate on the measure. The legislation would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet department and continue covering military operations overseas.

It's the last major piece of legislation that's likely to become law before the election.

It's unclear when the measure will come to a final vote because senators are haggling over which other pieces of legislation to vote on before leaving Washington and going campaigning.

After the election, Congress will reconvene to try to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts and avoid automatic spending cuts mandated by the failure of the deficit "supercommittee" last year.

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