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CONGRESS

Spending-bill vote set for Tuesday

The Senate will try to pass a bill this week keeping the government operating through March 4, when the next Congress would have to work out spending priorities for the rest of the fiscal year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday.

A Senate vote to pass the temporary funding bill is likely Tuesday, Mr. Reid said, when existing funds to operate the government expire.

The House would then have to sign off on the measure and send it to President Obama for his expected approval.

Under the bill, most federal government programs would be funded at last year’s levels through March 4.

The new Congress will be seated on Jan. 5, with Republicans taking over control of the House. If this latest spending bill is enacted, Republicans will have a much greater say in spending priorities as they write legislation to fund the government from March 4 until Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama sends notes on Darfur vote

President Obama, who has pushed Sudan over an upcoming referendum and the crisis in Darfur, has written to leaders in the region stressing U.S. commitment to a peaceful vote, the White House said Sunday.

With the referendum on southern independence just three weeks away and violence in the south flaring, Mr. Obama is trying to galvanize the region to pressure Khartoum to make sure the vote takes place on time and the outcome is respected.

“President Obama has made it clear that Sudan is one of the administration’s top priorities. We have a vision of hope, peace and prosperity for the people of Sudan,” White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said.

Confirming Mr. Obama had written to a number of leaders about the referendum and the situation in Darfur, Mr. Hammer said this was part of an ongoing diplomatic push to emphasize the importance that Washington places on a peaceful Sudan.

The Jan. 9 referendum on independence for south Sudan was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the oil-rich south, where most follow traditional beliefs and Christianity.

HOUSE

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