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Senate Nears Passage of War Supplemental

The Senate moved one step closer to approving the $60 billion war supplemental bill Thursday, voting 69-29 to end debate and move toward final passage.

Senate Democrats are scrambling to pass both the war supplemental and a tax extenders package, which will have to be sent over from the House, before adjourning for the Memorial Day recess. Members are preparing to leave town Friday for the weeklong break, although weekend votes could be scheduled.

A delay to the recess would not be a welcome announcement for the handful of Senators who are up for re-election and are eager to get back to their home states to campaign. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who has a runoff election June 8, is scheduled to appear with former President Bill Clinton at a rally in Little Rock on Friday.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), meanwhile, is recovering from hernia surgery and missed Thursday’s procedural vote to end debate on the supplemental. It’s unclear whether he might return to work Friday. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) also missed Thursday’s vote.

Before Thursday’s vote, the Senate rejected a handful of amendments to the spending bill. Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D-Wis.) amendment calling for a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan was rejected, as were Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) two proposals to pay for the war supplemental, either by trimming government spending or Congress’ own budget.

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