Congress easily passes $1.1T spending bill

ANDREW TAYLOR
Associated Press
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Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. return to their offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, during a short recess as the Senate worked to get final congressional approval for an immense $1.1 trillion spending package, a bipartisan compromise that all but banishes the likelihood of an election-year government shutdown, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. The legislation is a follow-up to the budget compromise the two parties pushed through Congress in December that set overall spending limits for the next two years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has easily passed a $1.1 trillion bill easing the harshest effects of last year's automatic spending cuts after tea party critics chastened by the government shutdown in October mounted only a faint protest.

The sweeping 72-26 Senate vote to fund the government through September sends the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature before a midnight Saturday deadline. The House easily passed the bill on Wednesday.

The huge bill funds every agency of government, pairing increases for NASA and Army Corps of Engineers construction projects with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service and foreign aid. It pays for implementation of Obama's health care law.

A fight over implementing "Obamacare" sparked tea party Republicans to partially shut down the government for 16 days in October.