WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a short-term spending measure to continue funding the federal government at 2010 levels through Dec. 21.

If approved by the U.S. Senate, the measure will give lawmakers in that chamber time to complete work on a longer-term spending package for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Senate Democrats scrapped efforts Dec. 16 to approve a massive spending package for 2011 in the face of mounting Republican opposition to earmarks contained in the $1.1 trillion measure. In floor remarks Dec. 17, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the House is awaiting Senate action on a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government through February at 2010 levels. The Senate could also take up H.R. 3082, a $1.09 trillion continuing resolution that would fund the government through Sept. 30 that the House narrowly adopted Dec. 10. Although that would freeze federal spending at 2010 levels, some agencies, including NASA, would see a slight boost in spending.

In remarks on the House floor Dec. 17 Hoyer said the Senate is expected to pass “some continuing resolution appropriation for some period of time. We don’t know what that is.” Earlier in the day Hoyer said the three-day continuing resolution approved in the House “will get us through whatever the Senate is or is not going to do.”

The government has been operating under a continuing resolution approved in early December that expires Dec. 18.

Lamenting the Senate’s decision to abandon work on the omnibus spending measure, which would have rolled all 12 annual appropriations bills into a single spending package for 2011, Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), said nothing good will come from passage of continuing resolution.

“A CR will result in fewer dollars being spent,” Inouye said in remarks on the Senate floor Dec.17. “A CR will include less spending than was included in the omnibus, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.”