Eleventh-hour stopgap measure averts government shutdown; parties agree to 'historic' cuts.
After days of painstaking negotiations and barbed insults, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders announced on Friday night that they had come up with a stopgap measure to keep the federal government from shutting down.
"Senator Reid and I and the White House have come to an agreement to cut spending and keep the government open," House Speaker John Boehner said.
"Tomorrow I'm pleased to announce the Washington monument and the entire federal government, will be open for business," President Obama said in an appearance at the White House.
The dramatic announcement came with just over an hour to go before thousands of federal workers were due to be furloughed and a range of government services from FBI investigations to passport renewals were due to be scuttled.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the agreement included an "historic" level of cuts -- $78 billion below the president's original budget request. The two sides also agreed on a short-term resolution to keep government operating through next Thursday, to provide time to formalize the agreement for the rest of the fiscal year.
The Senate immediately passed the short-term measure on a voice vote.
While the long-term deal must still be approved by Congress and signed by the president, early indications were that majorities in both political parties would go along with the measure which is expected to cut $39 billion in spending from this year's budget.
The likelihood of a war-time federal government shutdown--the first in American history--diminished dramatically on Friday night as all parties began reviewing, with the goal of approving, a broad array of cuts and a short-term bill to keep the government operating while the details are put into legislative language for full congressional action next week.
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