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House passes spending bill, but the fight's just starting

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Alex Brandon/AP

(Read caption) House Speaker John Boehner leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 17. Boehner says, "“These are going to be the most important two, three, four months that we have seen in this town in decades."

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When the gavel finally banged down after 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning in the US House of Representatives and lawmakers wobbled off to bed after a series of all-nighters, it wasn’t the end of the battle to keep the federal government from shutting down on March 4.

Barely the beginning, in fact.

They’d passed a continuing resolution to keep federal agencies operating through the end of FY 2011 (Sept. 30). But in cutting $61 billion from current spending levels through that period, they’d taken mighty whacks at many popular programs – eliminating some – in a way sure to set up confrontation with the Democrat-run Senate and the Obama administration.

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The $1.2 trillion stop-gap measure passed by the House in fact is just the opening round in what’s likely to be a major partisan fight through the rest of this Congress and Obama’s White House term over government spending, taxation, major entitlements like Social Security, raising the federal debt limit, and reducing the $1.6 trillion deficit.

With a newly-powerful GOP now running the House (prodded sharply from the right by its tea party wing and 87 independent-minded freshmen) and the next presidential election campaign just months away, it’s likely to be particularly intense.

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