The Senate voted Friday to close debate on the House-passed government spending bill, the chamber's first step toward passing a bill.
The measure passed 79-19. Nineteen Republians voted against it.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had urged his colleagues to vote "no" in an effort to force Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) to defund Obamacare.
More votes, including on an amendment to strip the bill of its defund language, will follow shortly.