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The Senate late Friday managed to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government open through April, with less than an hour to spare before federal funding expired.

The bill was approved over the objections of several Democrats who were pushing for extended coal miner health benefits, although many Democrats made it clear they weren’t about to stand in the way of keeping the government open. It passed 63-36.

The legislation was quickly sent to President Obama’s desk, and the White House announced before 1 a.m. that Obama had signed it into law. The effort barely beat out a deadline that, if missed, would have resulted in a partial government shutdown. The bill keeps the government funded until April 28.

“The resolution accomplishes the goals we set out for this year,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I’m just sorry it only funds the government through April.”

Passage came after a day-long standoff with coal-state Democrats, led by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., over language in the bill that provided only a four-month extension of healthcare benefits for more than 16,000 coal miners.

Manchin is seeking a permanent extension and said the spending bill should have at least provided the benefits for another year.

Manchin’s opposition threatened to push the vote on the bill until 1 a.m., past the midnight deadline when current government funding runs out. But Democrats were eager to avoid causing a shutdown, which typically angers the public and hurts poll numbers.

By late afternoon Friday, Manchin came to the floor to acknowledge a pledge by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to work early next year to extend the benefits for the miners.

“I appreciate the majority leader making this commitment,” Manchin said.

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The bill was approved with bipartisan support in the GOP-led House on Thursday thanks to sweeteners that appealed to Democrats, including $170 million to help Flint, Michigan cope with lead-contaminated water and $872 million to fund many of the programs in the medical innovation bill that cleared Congress on Monday.

The legislation includes a critical provision aimed at speeding up the confirmation process for retired Gen. James Mattis, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next defense secretary nominee.

Mattis, a four-star general who retired in 2013, requires a waiver to serve in the Cabinet because he has not been out of the military for the requisite seven years. The spending bill includes a provision that would streamline the process of passing legislation to create a waiver for Mattis.

The language was a compromise between the two parties after Democrats threatened to vote against the spending bill if it provided Mattis with an outright waiver.

The measure holds funding levels for most departments at fiscal 2016 levels, adhering to a $1.07 trillion annual budget cap.

Senate overrides Boxer, passes water projects bill

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The Senate early Saturday approved a bill authorizing federal water projects over the objections of the legislation’s Democratic author, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who objected to a last-minute rider addressing drought in California’s Joaquin Valley.

A handful of west coast Democrats voted “no” along with Boxer, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee. Boxer, who is retiring in a few weeks, spent part of Friday protesting the rider on the Senate floor.

“I find myself filibustering my own bill, which is really bizarre way of ending my career here,” the retiring senator said.

The drought language was inserted by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

12/10/16 1:10 AM

The spending bill eased the worries of House defense hawks, who warned the military would be unable to function at 2016 spending levels, by including an additional $8 billion in additional Pentagon spending.

Lawmakers also added $4.1 million for disaster relief for drought and flood-stricken regions of the country.

The short-term measure was proposed at the request of President-elect Donald Trump, who told House and Senate Republicans he wants a hand in determining spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2017.

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