The Senate convened Saturday for a rare weekend session as lawmakers scramble to finish their business before departing D.C. for the holidays.
The biggest item on the agenda is a sprawling $1.1 trillion, 1,600-page spending bill to keep the government afloat through September. The House passed the bill Thursday evening, shifting the onus of preventing a government shutdown to the upper chamber.
Late Saturday, the Senate passed a short-term measure previously approved by the House that funds the government through Wednesday. Without the measure, the government would have had to shut down at midnight.
For the larger spending bill, at least 60 senators must agree to end debate and move toward a vote of the full Senate - a procedure called cloture. A cloture vote will likely take place very early Sunday morning, which would queue up a vote for final passage of the spending bill Monday.
Democrats object to several items in the bill, particularly a banking provision that rolls back a Dodd-Frank rule requiring the separation of most derivatives trading from traditional banking.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Thursday he wouldn't have added the provision, but he added, "I didn't write this bill. The Senate Democrats didn't write this bill alone. It's a compromise. That is what legislation is all about."
President Obama urged lawmakers to pass the bill Friday, despite his objection to several provisions in it.
"Had I been able to draft my own legislation and get it passed without any Republican votes, I suspect it would be slightly different," he said. "That is not the circumstance we find ourselves in, and I think what the American people very much are looking for is some practical governance and the willingness to compromise, and that's what this bill reflects, so I'm glad it passed the House, and I'm hopeful that it will pass the Senate."
As the procedural clock runs down on the larger spending measure, the Senate has some other business to keep lawmakers occupied. Up to 20 presidential nominations, some judicial and some executive, will be considered by the Senate Saturday.
Senators also hope to vote on an extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which was reauthorized by the House Wednesday. That measure, set to expire at the end of the year, would provide federal assistance for insurers in the event of a terrorist attack that costs the industry more than $200 million in reimbursements.