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Shutdown averted: Senate passes spending bill with less than an hour to spare


The Senate late Friday voted in favor of legislation to avoid a government shutdown as coal-state Democrats beat a tactical retreat and promised to continue their fight next year for months-long health care benefits for retired miners.

"We had no intention of shutting down the government," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The stopgap spending bill will keep the government operating through April 28.

The 63-36 vote sent the stop-gap spending bill to President Barack Obama, who signed the measure early Saturday morning.

The Senate also passed a $10 billion water bill.

Money from the water bill is meant for responding to lead-laced drinking water in Michigan and drought in California.

The votes came after Democrats signaled a retreat on miners' aid. The bill provides benefits at a cost of $45 million for four months. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) led the battle of coal-state Democrats who demanded a one-year extension for the miners rather than the shorter fix. 

Faced with Republicans unwilling to agree to the robust coverage and the departure of House lawmakers, the Democrats relented.

Manchin acknowledged Friday night that he probably did not have the votes to block the bill, but said "the fight will continue" next year.

The high-stakes fight gave Democrats a chance to cast themselves and not the GOP as the champion of the common man. Manchin was joined by other coal-state Democrats from states Donald Trump won last month, including Pennsylvania and Ohio.

In addition to keeping the government open, the spending bill also provides war funding, disaster aid for Louisiana and other states, and an expedited process for considering Trump's nominee for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis.

The spending bill also would provide $7 million to reimburse the New York Police Department for the cost of security around Trump Tower in Manhattan, far less than the $35 million the city requested.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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