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September 27, 2013

Senate votes 54-44 to restore Obamacare funding

The Senate Friday moved an important step closer to passing a budget that would keep the government open past Tuesday while restoring Obamacare funding, as it voted 54 to 44 to restore Obamacare funding to the fiscal 2014 budget.

The House of Representatives had stripped the funds in a vote last week.

Earlier Friday, the Senate voted 79 to 19 to cut off any a debate led by the plan’s opponents.

A final vote on the budget is expected later Friday afternoon.

The votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate set up a showdown with the Republican-led House.  The House last week approved a stopgap budget that defunds the 2010 health care law. Senators from both parties have warned that keeping that provision will lead to a partial government shutdown, since the Senate will never approve it.

The House, though, is remaining resolute. It plans to meet Saturday to consider the Senate action, and so far, has shown little inclination to pass a budget that keeps the Obamacare money intact.

Unless Congress agrees on a budget plan by Monday night, the government will run out of spending authority Tuesday.

The Senate votes followed an often tense week of debate that featured a 21 hour, 19 minute talkathon Tuesday and Wednesday led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Democrats, though, argued that the conservative effort made little sense; Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., urged colleagues Friday to strip the budget bill of "ideological riders."

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