Senate reaches bipartisan agreement

— The Senate on Monday night reached a bipartisan agreement intended to end a dispute over disaster relief spending that threatened to cause a partial shutdown of the government at the end of the week.

In two votes, the Senate approved short-term spending measures to fund the government for the first seven weeks of the new fiscal year that begins Saturday.

It passed the first measure on a 79-12 vote, then approved the second measure on a voice vote.

The measures now go to the House, which must approve them to ensure the government continues to be funded after the end of the current fiscal year at midnight Friday.

House Republicans scheduled a conference call for later Monday night to discuss their next steps.

The spending proposals contain additional disaster relief money needed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to refill depleted coffers.

However, the emergency disaster funding only applies to the new fiscal year beginning Saturday, after FEMA indicated that it had enough money left to get through the rest of the current fiscal year.

Democrats and Republicans were at an impasse over a GOP demand to cut spending elsewhere to offset any increased disaster relief funding in the current fiscal year.

A FEMA statement Monday said updated estimates showed that the agency's Disaster Relief Fund has about $114 million left that "could be fully exhausted by the end of the week." Previous estimates had the money running out as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.