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Senate approves spending bill to avert government shutdown

The Senate has passed a huge spending bill to keep the government open through the end of September, preventing a government shutdown but leaving in place automatic spending cuts that will mean job furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers. 

The bipartisan 73-26 vote sends the measure to the House, which is expected to approve it on Thursday and ship it to President Obama for his signature. 

The measure would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet agency through Sept. 30, provide another $87 billion to fund overseas military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and maintain a pay freeze for federal workers. 

The measure gives the Pentagon much-sought relief from a cash crunch in accounts for training and readiness and gives veteran health programs their scheduled increases.