US budget bill passes key Senate hurdle

Following days of divisive debate, the US Senate voted Friday to advance a temporary budget, putting it on track for likely passage as Congress struggles to avoid a government shutdown.

The chamber voted 79-19 to end debate on the stopgap spending measure, setting up a vote within coming minutes aimed at stripping out langauge in the bill that would have defunded President Barack Obama's health care law.

A majority of Republicans joined a united Democratic caucus in voting yes for the measure, which required a three-fifths super-majority to overcome blocking tactics.

Democratic leader Harry Reid will now strip out the "Obamacare" defunding measure, a move that requires merely a simple majority in the 100-member chamber.

Should the bill pass as expected, also with a simple majority, the Senate will immediately send the legislation to the House of Representatives for consideration.

House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that the Republican-led House is unlikely to pass a stripped down budget bill, suggesting his caucus will seek to insert some conservative sweeteners in the legislation and send it back to the Senate.

Such a move would push the US government perilously close to the end of the current fiscal year, September 30. If no funding bill is in place by Tuesday, October 1, many government agencies are mandated to start shutting their doors.