WASHINGTON — The National Center for Toxicological Research near Pine Bluff would avoid major budget cuts this year under a spending deal expected to clear Congress this week.

WASHINGTON — The National Center for Toxicological Research near Pine Bluff would avoid major budget cuts this year under a spending deal expected to clear Congress this week.

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said Wednesday the NCTR would get $60 million in the next fiscal year under an agreement reached between House and Senate negotiators.

“I think that is a big win. Those are 550 good jobs,” Pryor said during a conference call with reporters.

The House and Senate had approved conflicting versions of an annual spending bill that would establish funding levels for the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Transportation departments in the 2012 fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

Among the conflicts was funding for the NCTR. The Senate bill included $60 million requested by the Obama administration. The House version had $51.5 million.

A panel of House and Senate negotiators, which included Pryor, hammered out a final version that included the Senate figure. The bill is expected to come before the House and Senate on Thursday for an up-or-down vote.

NCTR survived a similar budget scare last year when the House initially approved a spending plan that would have cut the center’s budget to $35 million. Congress ended up enacting a spending bill that kept NCTR at $60 million.

Pryor said the final bill would also include language he proposed that would support the FDA in researching the safety of nanotechnology through the NCTR.

The spending legislation is expected to pass.