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US Senate Passes Stopgap US Funding Measure

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D- Nev., talks to the media after a Democratic policy luncheon on in Washington, March 1, 2011

The U.S. Senate has passed a measure to temporarily fund the federal government for two more weeks, to avoid a shutdown while lawmakers debate a longer-term budget.

The Senate vote took place Wednesday - a day after the House of Representatives passed the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, from the western U.S. state of Nevada, said earlier that the temporary funding bill would allow lawmakers to turn quickly to negotiating the budget for the rest of the fiscal year.

The interim deal now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The temporary budget deal between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate will cut $4 billion from this year's federal budget - some of it from programs that President Obama has deemed expendable.

The rest of the savings would come from ending the practice of earmarks, which lawmakers use to fund special projects in their home districts.

A White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said President Obama had "a good phone call" Tuesday with Republican House Speaker John Boehner from the central U.S. state of Ohio, and that Obama was confident there was enough time for both sides to reach an agreement to fund the government for the rest of the year.

Boehner told reporters it would not be easy to cut government spending, but that the temporary funding measure was a step in the right direction.

Last month, the House passed legislation that cut $61 billion from the federal budget this year, driven by 87 new Republican representatives elected last November as part of the Tea Party movement, which demands reduced government spending. But Democrats say the spending cuts proposed by House Republicans could cost jobs and harm economic recovery.