DEVELOPING: Democrats and Republicans in the Senate reached a deal late Saturday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund the government through next September and avert a partial government shutdown.
The deal cleared the way for a final vote on the bill Saturday night. The next legislative step is to vote on cloture to halt debate on the bill, which requires 60 votes.
If the number is reached, then it is expected that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will make a point of order against the bill, focusing on immigration. The point of order only requires a simple majority.
If Cruz’s point of order is not sustained, then the Senate would likely progress to the final passage of the bill, which also would require only a simple majority of 50 to pass, sending the legislation to President Obama’s desk.
The unexpected breakthrough comes hours after the U.S. Senate passed a short-term bill Saturday afternoon that would fund the federal government through Wednesday night, easing growing concerns of a potential partial government shutdown.
The bill, which passed by a voice vote, bought lawmakers more time to comb through the separate $1.1 trillion long-term funding bill.
The spending package would cover much of the government through most of 2015.
Lawmakers spent much of Saturday wrangling over not only the spending package but also Obama’s nominations to various judicial and administrative posts.
With the end of the two-year Congress approaching, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was pressing to confirm about 20 nominees to fill posts such as surgeon general, director of the Social Security Administration and federal judgeships.
The spending measure tops the remaining items on a quarrelsome Congress’ agenda. Others include renewing tax breaks for individuals and businesses and a government program supporting the market for insurance against terrorist acts. In one bit of progress, the Senate sent Obama a sweeping defense policy measure by a big bipartisan vote.
The controversial spending package has been opposed by conservative Republicans like Cruz for not challenging Obama’s immigration measures, as well as by leading liberals such as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. who have criticized the bill for repealing banking regulation.
Despite the opposition from liberals, the package won a personal endorsement from Obama and was brought before the Senate.
Obama acknowledged that the measure has “a bunch of provisions in this bill that I really do not like,” and said the bill flows from “the divided government that the American people voted for.”
Obama has sided with old-school pragmatists in his party like Reid, but split from liberals such as Pelosi and Warren. Warren blasted the measure in a Senate speech for the third straight day, saying it was a payoff to Citigroup, whose lobbyists helped write a provision that significantly weakens new regulations on derivatives trading by Wall Street banks.
“Enough is enough. Washington already works really well for the billionaires and the big corporations and the lawyers and the lobbyists,” Warren said. “But what about the families who lost their homes or their jobs or their retirement savings the last time Citi bet big on derivatives and lost?”
Another provision loathed by many Democrats — though backed by the Democratic National Committee — raises the amount of money that wealthy donors may contribute to political parties for national conventions, election recounts and headquarters buildings.
Democrats will lose control of the Senate in January because of heavy losses in midterm elections last month and will go deeper into a House minority than at any time in nearly 70 years.
Lawmakers from both parties came to the floor to praise the underlying spending measure, which provides funding to keep nearly the entire government operating through the Sept. 30 end of the current budget year.
The sole exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only until Feb. 27. Republicans intend to try then to force the president to roll back a new immigration policy that removes the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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