Shutdown averted, six-day CR passed

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

Federal employees can rest easy for several more days. White House and Congressional leaders reached an 11th hour deal Friday night, passing a one-week continuing resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. The bill cuts $2 billion more from the fiscal 2011 budget.

Federal leaders averted the first government shutdown in 15 years by reaching the deal. It also means federal employees should plan to come to work as planned and resume business as usual.

The Senate passed the bill first and the House quickly followed by a vote of 348-70 with 17 members not voting. President Obama is expected to sign the bill this morning.

Congress and the White House also agreed to a long-term continuing resolution to fund the government through Sept. 30, cutting spending by another $37 billion. The House and Senate will use the first few days of next week to get the bill passed and signed into law.

During a statement at the White House, President Barack Obama said some of the cuts will be painful but the White House protected its priority projects.

“In the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down, leaders in both parties reached an agreement that will allow our small businesses to get the loans they need, our families to get the mortgages they applied for, and hundreds of thousands of Americans to show up at work and take home their paychecks on time, including our brave men and women in uniform,” Obama said.

“Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful. Programs people rely on will be cut back. Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a joint statement.

“We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President. We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders. In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.”

Obama said this was the largest annual spending cut in the history of the country and it came down to compromising to get the deal done.

“It is my sincere hope that we can come together” again, he said.”Today we acted on behalf of our children’s future.”

Agencies spent the last few days preparing for a government shutdown — furlough notices went out Friday to employees, contingency plans were made public and contractors were waiting for stop-work orders.

Jacob Lew, Office of Management and Budget director, issued guidance to agencies shortly before the House passed the final bill.

“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,” Lew wrote. “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. Thank you for your cooperation and support throughout this process.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee detailed the short-term cuts:

  • The Transportation Planning, Research, and Development account is reduced from $16.1 million to $9.8 million.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration’s Facilities and Equipment account is decreased by $8.7 million – or less than one percent – from the 2010 level.
  • The FAA’s Research, Engineering and Development account is cut by $3.5 million – or two percent – from the 2010 level.
  • The Federal Railroad Administration High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail is reduced to $1 billion.
  • The FRA’s Research and Development account is reduced to $35.1 million, $2.513 million less than 2010.
  • The Transportation Department’s budget for Transit New Starts is reduced to $1.72 billion, $280 million below the 2010 level.
  • The Transit Research and University Research Centers Program is cut $64.2 million.
  • The funding for Public Housing Operating Fund is decreased to $4.6 billion.
  • The Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Fund, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is cut by $220 million.

On side issues, or “riders,” the Democrats and the White House rebuffed numerous Republican attempts to curtail the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency and sidetracked their demand to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

Anti-abortion lawmakers did succeed in winning a provision to ban the use of federal or local government funds to pay for abortions in the District of Columbia.

The deal came together after six grueling weeks and an outbreak of budget brinksmanship over the past few days as the two sides sought to squeeze every drop of advantage in private talks.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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