Senate OKs legislation to avoid partial gov't shutdown

(AP) - Ending weeks of political brinkmanship,Congress finessed a dispute over disaster aid Monday night andadvanced legislation to avoid a partial government shutdown onlydays away.

The agreement ensured there would be no interruption inassistance to areas battered by disasters such as Hurricane Ireneand last summer's tornados in Joplin, Mo., and also that thegovernment would be able to run normally when the new budget yearbegins on Saturday.

The Senate approved the resolution after a day ofbehind-the-scenes talks and occasionally biting debate, spelling anend to the latest in a string of standoffs between Democrats andRepublicans over deficits, spending and taxes. Those fights haverattled financial markets and coincided with polls showingcongressional approval ratings at historically low levels.

The breakthrough came hours after the Federal EmergencyManagement Agency indicated it had enough money for disaster reliefefforts through Friday. That disclosure allowed lawmakers tojettison a $1 billion replenishment that had been included in themeasure - and to crack the gridlock it had caused.

The Democratic-controlled Senate approved the measure on abipartisan vote of 79-12, sending it to the Republican-controlledHouse for a final sign-off.

There was no immediate comment from House GOP leaders, althoughtheir approval for the measure seemed a mere formality after theparty's Senate leader agreed to it.

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