Senate Democrats released on Monday night a new government budget, which Pentagon planners eagerly are awaiting to help them manage the across-the-board “sequestration” cuts that started March 1.

“It doesn’t fix all of our problems, but it would certainly help,” Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale said Monday about the new budget measure–a “continuing resolution” (CR) that lawmakers are trying to pass before the current CR expires March 27.

Both the old resolution and a new one lawmakers are debating hold the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2013 budget, which ends Sept. 30, at funding levels near those in FY ’12. Yet the version of the new CR that the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) released Monday night–like the one the House passed last week–also grants the Pentagon a full-fledged FY ’13 defense appropriations bill. That legislation shifts around funding to better reflect the militarys priorities than the initial CR does. It also helps the Pentagon manage the sequestration reductions, by allowing it to shift around funding already in its coffers. Sequestration is the $1.2 trillion decade-long budget cut that is slated to tap $46 billion in Pentagon spending until Sept. 30.

The SAC’s new CR contains the same defense appropriations bill that’s in the House-passed CR, according to SAC spokesman Rob Blumenthal. House and Senate defense appropriators already negotiated that defense budgeting bill last year.

However, while the House bill would only grant the Pentagon and Veterans Administration full appropriations bills, Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) also added appropriations legislation to the new CR for additional federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and NASA. House Republicans could resist that move, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he wants to pass a resolution without too many extra bills attached to it.

Mikulski and Shelby worked “diligently through the weekend to reach a bipartisan agreement on a path forward” for the CR in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday. The full Senate will debate the SAC’s CR this week, he said.

“The measure passed last week by the House of Representatives is not perfect,” Reid said. “Senators will wish to offer amendments. And we are working out a process to consider those amendments.”

The new Senate CR calls for a $518 billion base defense budget, close to the FY ’12 budget amount. It “directs 671 cuts to unnecessary or under-performing programs” and “aligns funding to where it is needed” in FY ’13, according to a SAC summary. It prevents “disruptions to important programs” that would occur if the Pentagon continues to operate without a defense appropriations bill, the committee says.

The SAC’s measure includes $2.3 billion fund operations of seven Navy cruisers and two dock-landing ships proposed for early retirement. It also provides an additional $640 million to “accelerate Army helicopter purchases,” adds $1.5 billion to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment account, and calls for a $211 million boost for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense program, according to the committee.

The bill also includes a boost to operation and maintenance funding compared to the FY ’12 levels, which is offset with reductions of to procurement and research and development funding.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign a final CR the House and Senate agree to this month. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), though, said his administration is “deeply concerned” with the House version (Defense Daily, March 6).

Hale told Pentagon employees at a “town hall” meeting Monday that the House-passed CR would bring him some budgeting relief.

“Now it doesn’t solve all our problems,” he said. “It leaves sequestration in place and did not, as we’d hoped, fix some of the (Overseas Contingency Operations) OCO shortfalls (for war funding). But there might be some opportunity to reprogram, a technique we use to move money around to try to meet some of those problems.”

Hale said during the afternoon event that he was eager to see the SAC version of the new CR. He said he was “cautiously optimistic that we will get some further flexibility from the Senate, from the Senate Appropriations Committee, but we’ll have to see the bill to be sure.”

Hale also said he is watching for Obama and Congress to reach a “big budget deal” that stops sequestration, predicting one could be reached in July. Obama and many lawmakers had wanted to stop the sequestration cuts from starting, but Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on an alternative deficit-cutting plan.

Obama is planning a series of trips to Capitol Hill this week, to meet Tuesday with Senate Democrats, Wednesday with House Republicans, and Thursday with Senate Republicans and House Democrats, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday.

The GOP-led House Budget Committee is expected to unveil a budget resolution Tuesday that provides a framework for balancing the federal budget. The Democratic-run Senate Budget Committee will follow on Wednesday with its version of the non-binding budgeting resolution.

Carney could not say when Obama will release his delayed FY ’14 budget proposal, but indicated the president wants to see the House and Senate budget resolutions first. Congressional aides have said April 8 is the release day for the Pentagon budget.