Aiming to avert a government shutdown, Senate Appropriations Committee leaders have agreed on a bipartisan measure to keep federal agencies operating through the end of fiscal year 2013.

The bill’s construction-related provisions include language to fund federal transportation programs at the levels specified in last year’s Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

The proposed Senate continuing resolution (CR), released late on March 11, includes the $85-billion mandatory sequester cuts that kicked in on March 1. However, it also would make a variety of changes in construction and other programs.

The Senate legislation, the result of an agreement between Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Richard Shelby of Alabama, the panel’s ranking Republican, moved quickly to the floor.

Mikulski said she thought the Senate could approve the bill by March 15.

If enacted, the new CR would succeed a current stopgap spending bill that is set to expire on March 27. Failure to pass a new bill would cause agencies to suspend operations.

Mikulski said in a March 12 floor speech that senators from both parties “are absolutely committed to no shutdown, no showdown, no lockdown and no slam-down.”

If the Senate approves the measure, it would have to be reconciled with the version the House passed on March 6. The House-approved bill cuts highway, transit and highway-safety spending by hundreds of millions of dollars from MAP-21's levels.

The Mikulski-Shelby plan and House-passed CR each total $984 billion, counting the $59-billion sequester cut, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.