WASHINGTON – Just weeks after Washington nearly went to war over automatic spending cuts, the Senate scripted a peaceful ending to the clash Wednesday as it backed the reductions while giving government managers flexibility to minimize the impacts on the public by finding the savings elsewhere in their budgets.

The Democratic-controlled Senate approved the plan to finance the government for the rest of the fiscal year — with the sequester in place — by a 73-26 vote. The Republican-led House of Representatives is expected to go along Thursday. Most government agencies run out of money March 27; the votes will maintain spending at current levels through the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.

While the $85 billion in automatic cuts that took effect March 1 will remain, programs involving homeland security, defense, agriculture, commerce, justice and science are likely to find slightly more funding for programs they regard as essential, such as food inspections, nutritional aid for low-income women and tuition help for members of the armed forces.

Sequestration cuts had threatened to suspend the tuition benefits, which allow active-duty military personnel to attend school part time. The Pentagon now can find savings elsewhere.

Also approved was more funding for the National Institutes of Health; the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program; and food safety inspections. The money will come from other programs, such as school equipment grants and building maintenance.

Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., had warned that the unpaid furloughs of meat inspectors would force 6,300 plants to close temporarily during the proposed furlough days, causing half a million private-sector workers to lose nearly $400 million in wages. Federal law requires the presence of federal food inspectors in meat and poultry plants in order for them to operate.

“Without this funding, every meat, poultry and egg processing facility in the country would be forced to shut down for up to two weeks,” Blunt contended. The stopgap budget agreement also served a political purpose. Nothing motivates politicians like fear of losing elections, and polls were clear: People were sick of Congress. The latest Gallup poll put Congress’ approval rating at 13 percent.