By Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate, in a hugely bipartisan 91-7 vote, moved on Thursday to open debate on its first package of spending bills for fiscal year 2024, as the chamber seeks to move ahead with funding plans ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.
The federal government continues to steer toward a partial government shutdown on Oct. 1, as none of the one-dozen appropriations bills have been worked out between the Senate and House of Representatives.
It also is unclear if enough House Republicans will support a separate, stopgap spending bill the White House has requested to keep the government operating beyond Sept. 30 when funds expire.
* The Senate's bipartisan appropriations bills maintain the spending levels negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, but a faction of House Republicans have pressed for more cuts.
* The House has so far passed only one appropriations bill of the 12 total ahead of the deadline. A procedural vote for a second one was postponed on Wednesday.
* With Republicans holding a slim 222-212 majority, McCarthy can only afford four members of his caucus to buck the party line, unless he is able to secure support from Democrats.
The Senate will hold a vote to pass the package in the next few days.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)