Federal shutdown averted at last minute
Federal shutdown: Democrats and Republicans made a last minute historic deal to cut the federal budget and avoid a federal shutdown.
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Anti-abortion lawmakers did succeed in winning a provision to ban the use of government funds to pay for abortions in the Washington capital district.Skip to next paragraph
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Lawmakers raced to pass an interim measure to prevent a shutdown, however brief, and keep the federalmachinery running for the next several days. The Senate acted within minutes. The House worked past midnight, so the federal government was to be technically unfunded for a short period of time, but there would be little — if any — practical impact
Reid, Obama and Boehner all agreed a shutdown posed risks to an economy still recovering from the worst recession in decades.
But there were disagreements aplenty among the principal players in an early test of divided government — Obama in the White House, fellow Democrats in control in the Senate and a new Republican majority in the House bolstered by conservative tea party-affiliated freshmen.
For much of the day, Reid and Boehner disagreed about what the disagreement was about.
"Republicans want to shut down our nation's government because they want to make it harder to get cancer screenings," he said. "They want to throw women under the bus."
Boehner said repeatedly that wasn't the case — it was spending cuts that divided two sides.
"Most of the policy issues have been dealt with, and the big fight is about spending," he said. "When will the White House and when will Senate Democrats get serious about cutting federal spending?"
By midday Friday, 12 hours before the funding would run out, most federal employees had been told whether they had been deemed essential or would be temporarily laid off in the event of a shutdown.
Obama canceled his scheduled travel plans and kept in touch with both Boehner and Reid.
The standoff began several weeks ago, when the new Republican majority in the House passed legislation to cut $61 billion from federal spending and place numerous curbs on the government.
In the weeks since, the two sides have alternately negotiated and taken time out to pass interim measures.
For Congress and Obama there are even tougher struggles still ahead — over a Republican budget that would remake entire federal programs and a vote to raise the nation's debt limit.
Republicans intend to pass a 2012 budget through the House next week that calls for sweeping changes in health care entitlement programs and would cut domestic programs deeply in an attempt to gain control over soaring deficits.
And the Treasury has told Congress it must vote to raise the debt limit by summer — a request that Republicans hope to use to force Obama to accept long-term deficit-reduction measures.