Democrats in the Senate have beat back a GOP filibuster of must-pass legislation that wraps up the bulk of the remaining congressional agenda besides health care.

The measure is anchored by a $626 billion Pentagon funding bill, but it also carries short-term extensions of unemployment benefits, highway funding, and key pieces of the Patriot Act.

The timing of the 63-33 post-midnight tally blocked GOP stalling tactics and forces a final vote no later than Saturday. It was governed more by the brawl over health care than opposition to the defense measure.

The House passed the bill Wednesday by an overwhelming vote. It provides $626 billion to the Defense Department for the budget year that began almost three months ago, a 4 percent increase for core Pentagon operations.