The legislation approved temporary funds for several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, to keep them operating through February 8 without the $5 billion demanded by Trump to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
The Senate approved legislation Wednesday to temporarily fund the government, a key step toward averting a federal shutdown after President Donald Trump backed off his demand for money for a border wall with Mexico.
Senators passed the measure, which would keep government running to February 8, by voice vote without a roll call.
The House is also expected to move before Friday's deadline, when funding for a portion of the government expires. Without resolution, more than 800,000 federal workers would face furloughs or be forced to work without pay, disrupting government operations days before Christmas.
While the White House indicated Trump was open to reviewing whatever Congress could pass, the president did not immediately weigh in on the short-term plan.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican-Kentucky, said the Senate will remain in session Thursday. "We have to see what the House does," he said.
Many of Trump's supporters were frustrated that he appeared to retreat on his shutdown threats after promising a fight over the wall, which had been central to his presidential campaign. Just last week Trump said he would be "proud" to shut down the government over his demand for $5 billion for the wall.
Some allies described the move as caving on his pledge, expressing concern that it could hurt Trump's 2020 prospects.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Trump's political base "will just go crazy" if he signs a bill without wall funding. He warned it will be tougher to win the money next year when Democrats control the House. He said supporters of the president "believe it's a promise that he's been telling them that he will keep."
On Twitter, Trump appeared to respond to criticism by insisting that "one way or the other, we will win on the Wall!"
In our Country, so much money has been poured down the drain, for so many years, but when it comes to Border Security and the Military, the Democrats fight to the death. We won on the Military, which is being completely rebuilt. One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
Trump softening stance?
Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway also faced tough questioning on "Fox & Friends," the morning show known to be one of Trump's favorites.
Host Brian Kilmeade said Wednesday that Trump has "no leverage," while Ainsley Earhardt asked why Trump was "softening" his position.
"The president is not softening his stance," Conway said. "He has a responsibility to keep the government moving forward, and he has a responsibility to get border security."
McConnell, though, portrayed the short-term spending measure as a "simple" bill that would show that Republicans, who control Congress now, will finish the year by not prolonging a potential crisis.
"Republicans will continue to fill our duty to govern," he said.
Voting was delayed until late Wednesday as a bipartisan group of lawmakers, mostly from the West, pushed a package that would reauthorize a popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired September 30, and add other measures addressing public lands. Unable to reach agreement, they postponed action as talks continued.
At one point late in the late evening, senators broke out in a round of Christmas carols from a corner of the chamber.
A few moments later, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., gaveled a procedural vote closed by suggesting "Rudolph" had voted present.
It was unclear how many House members would return to Washington for votes after Republicans lost the majority in the midterm election. Some 70 members missed Wednesday's session, almost as many Democrats as Republicans.
With many House Republicans sour on the spending package, passage could depend on Democrats.
Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, who is on track to become speaker when Democrats take control January 3, signaled support for ensuring funding.
Should the legislation become law, the border money fight would drag into the next Congress, which could prove even more difficult for Trump.
Pelosi will probably be able to quickly win approval of a longer-term measure to keep government running in 2019.
"Democrats will be ready to fully, responsibly fund our government in January," Pelosi said in a statement.
As some Republicans grumbled that Trump caved, McConnell lashed out at Democrats for failing to give Trump any of the $5 billion that he wanted for the wall.
The bill keeps funding at current levels, $1.3 billion, for border security and fencing, but not for the wall.
"This seems to be the reality of our political moment," McConnell said. "It seems like political spite for the president may be winning out over sensible policy."