Updated with House vote, other details of agreement.....more budget battle coverage on the Sweet blog here.....
WASHINGTON--With about an hour to spare, a federal government shutdown was averted on Friday night in a deal where Republicans won spending cuts and Democrats thwarted a GOP House drive to defund health services for women provided by Planned Parenthood.
"Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decision and give ground on issues that were important to them. I certainly did," Obama said from the White House, standing in front of a window that allowed a view of the Washington Monument--a structure, Obama noted, that would have been closed if there was a shutdown. (Click here for Obama transcript)
"Shutdown avoided. Your voices heard loud and clear," was the message on the Planned Parenthood Twitterfeed. Taking on Planned Parenthood--which takes no federal money for abortions--but does to provide medical care for women, such as family planning and cancer screenings--was seen as a proxy for the long running and always contentious abortion fight.
However, as part of the deal, Senate Democrats had to promise to take up the Planned Parenthood funding question again, but in the friendly confines of the Democrat controlled Senate, a defunding measure will likely fail.
The agreement also adds a complete ban on local funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, which is still under the thumb of Congress in many ways. Federal funding for any abortions has been outlawed for years.
The deal, negotiated between the Obama White House, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) was announced after 11 p.m., just before the midnight Friday deadline. At issue is the budget for the six months left for fiscal year 2011. Another budget battle is brewing--over the pending fiscal year 2012 budget, with even deeper cuts and a GOP House proposal to revamp Medicare and Medicaid.
The agreement calls for $38.5 billion cuts in federal spending--more than the Democrats wanted and less than some Tea Party fueled Republicans were demanding.
Because it takes time to translate the details of the agreement into legislation, Congress is passing stopgap "bridge" bills to be signed by Obama to keep government open until the final language is done in a few days. The stopgap measure runs through April 15.
The Senate passed the measure by a voice vote. The House
was expected to vote after midnight; voted after midnight, but as a practical matter, voting early Saturday morning still keeps government open. The short-term extension passed on an overwhelming bi-partisan 348-70 roll call at 12:39 a.m. est
Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew sent out a memo at midnight instructing federal agencies to remain open. "Earlier this evening, the Senate passed a short term CR that will extend current funding levels until the full-year bill can be passed and enacted next week. We expect the House to take up the CR shortly and for the President to sign this CR no later than tomorrow. As a result, at this time agencies are instructed to continue their normal operations," Lew wrote.
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