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New December Deadline

The US Congress has passed and President Obama has signed a short-term spending bill late Wednesday, averting a government shutdown, the Washington Post reports. The bill funds government agencies through the middle of December.

The Post adds that negotiations for a full-year spending package are set to begin soon, and that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a two-year deal so that funding fight is avoiding ahead of next fall's presidential election. Some lawmakers are pushing, it says, to finish the bill before Speaker John Boehner steps down, as they are concerned that the new leadership team may be less likely to negotiate.

Nature News notes that the continuing resolution extends 2015 funding levels for most federal agencies, giving some $30.2 billion to the National Institutes of Health and $7.3 billion to the National Science Foundation. The short-term measure does not include any funding for the Precision Medicine Initiative, it adds.

Further, Michael Lubell, director of public affairs at the American Physical Society, says the bill merely "kicks the can down the road to December 11," noting that lawmakers have to resolve their difference over contentious issues like the funding of Planned Parenthood.