Senate approves $146B 'minibus' spending bill, sends to House

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The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the first of three so-called "minibus" spending packages aimed at funding most of the federal government when its new budget year begins Oct. 1.

The $146 billion measure, which funds the Energy Department, veterans' programs and the legislative branch, was passed 92-5. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and Rand Paul, R-Ky., opposed the measure.

The House is set to vote on the package Thursday.

If all three compromise spending packages are approved by both chambers and signed by President Donald Trump, they would account for nearly 90 percent of annual spending, including the military and most civilian agencies. However, lawmakers will still need to come up with stopgap legislation to fund a portion of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security.

The "minibus" bills represent a marked departure from recent years, when Congress routinely has ignored agency-specific spending measures in favor of so-called "omnibus" packages that fund the entire government all at once. Trump vowed in March that he wouldn't sign another bloated bill.

"The American people expect us to get our work done. If we continue to work together in a bipartisan manner, we can successfully fund nearly 90 percent of the federal government on time through regular order — something Congress has not been able to do in many years," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

"This package is not perfect, but that is the nature of compromise," added Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the ranking member on the Appropriations panel.

The president also has threatened to shut down the government on Oct. 1 unless Congress sets aside billions of dollars to fund his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

GOP leaders have said they prefer to address the issue after the midterm elections.

With Republicans running the White House and both chambers of Congress, GOP leaders have worried that voters would blame them for a shutdown, worsening the party's prospects for retaining congressional control.

"We still are in favor of the wall, we still want to get funding for the wall, but we think the best time to have that discussion is after the election," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Fox News last week.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.