After some intense wrangling, the Senate is poised to pass a controversial $410 billion spending bill Tuesday that funds the government though the end of the fiscal year.
The bill includes an 8.5 percent across-the-board increase over last year and billions of dollars worth of pet projects.
Final passage was temporarily delayed because of disagreements over provisions easing U.S. policy toward Cuba, as well as a stalwart Republican call for the Senate to consider more amendments. This deprived Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., of the 60 votes he needs to shut off debate and move to a final vote.
Twelve Republican amendments will now be considered between Monday and Tuesday with Democrats working hard to defeat all of them to meet a demand by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, that the bill not change. Pelosi has said any alteration in the House-passed omnibus would likely lead to a scrapping of the measure in favor of a continuing resolution -- a stop-gap measure that would fund the government at current spending levels through September.
This is something Republicans have sought in order to save the government hundreds of billions of dollars.
Reid needs the support of five Republicans, and he is likely to get that by Tuesday, according to numerous Senate GOP and Democratic aides.
But he has already lost the support of two of his own members.
"It looks as if Congress is just on auto pilot, immune to the problems" of Americans, he said, warning about the image Congress projects by passing a spending bill loaded with more than 8,500 earmarks.
The two Democrats have called on President Obama to veto the bill, but the White House has insisted that the measure is merely "last year's business" and that Congress should pass it quickly and move on to more pressing issues.
Congress has until Tuesday night at midnight to pass the measure or risk a government shutdown. The government is currently running on temporary funding that expires unless Congress acts.