WASHINGTON — The Senate’s top Republican moved swiftly to avoid a government shutdown in six days, pushing legislation that would keep agencies operating without a contentious fight over money for Planned Parenthood.

The action of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., followed a decisive Senate vote blocking a bill that would have stripped Planned Parenthood of funding while keeping the government running through Dec. 11.

The vote was 47-52, falling short of a majority and well shy of the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster led by Democrats. Eight Republicans voted with 42 Democrats and two independents to kill the measure.

Maine’s senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, voted with the majority.

McConnell immediately offered a bipartisan stopgap spending bill free of the Planned Parenthood dispute that’s expected to easily clear the Senate next week.

He has for almost a year promised that Republicans won’t repeat the government shutdown of two years ago.

In the House, Republican leaders called a meeting of their fractious rank and file for Friday to discuss whether to accept the Senate’s move or reject it at the risk that continuing the fight over Planned Parenthood would lead to a government shutdown.

The White House signaled President Obama would sign the measure, called a continuing resolution, into law – if the House steps aside from the fight tea party Republicans want over defunding Planned Parenthood.

“I think we all know we’re going to have a clean CR,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, using congressional code. “The House is going to figure out what the House is going to do, but we can’t shut down the government.”

Obama reminded Congress of the need to keep the government open.

Honoring public health workers for their efforts to combat Ebola, the president said such organizations “need support from Congress in order continue to excel in their mission so I hope that Congress chooses to keep our government open and operating so that heroes like this can keep working.”

Planned Parenthood has long been targeted by Republicans, but their efforts have intensified after the release of secretly recorded videos that raised questions about its handling of fetal tissue provided to researchers.

The vote to block the stopgap spending bill was expected. And on Thursday, the White House issued a statement that Obama would veto it in any event.

The Senate’s vote, and the bipartisan measure that followed, cranks up the pressure on the Republican-controlled House. There, GOP leaders have been stymied in their hopes to pass a temporary spending bill.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has only shaky control over his caucus, and tea party Republicans are adamant about using the must-pass measure to carry provisions to defund Planned Parenthood, even at the risk of a partial shutdown.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is using his rivalry with Republican leaders in Washington to help define his presidential campaign, vowed to fight the legislation.

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