The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday to prevent a U.S. government shutdown on March 27 and blunt the impact of newly imposed spending cuts on the Defense Department.

The 267-151 vote sent the measure to the Senate, where Democrats hope to give additional Cabinet agencies similar flexibility in implementing their shares of the $85 billion in economic recovery-threatening spending cuts required to take effect by the end of the budget year on Sept. 30.

Republicans said the measure was essential to keep the government operating smoothly after current funding expires on March 27.

The measure underscored joint efforts by the Obama administration and congressional Republicans to ease the impact of the deep spending cuts that kicked in with dire White House warnings last week.