With just over an hour before the midnight deadline, Republicans and Democrats agreed on $38 billion in federal budget cuts to avert a government shutdown. President Obama acknowledged the cuts would hurt, but they were needed, "We protected the investments we need to win the future, adding, "The government will be open for business. 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."
According to Talking Points Memo, "Despite the violent sturm und drang surrounding these negotiations -- including familiar, but tired accusations by Republicans of Democratic infidelity to U.S. troops -- the final deal looks uncannily like the framework the two sides have been working with since the middle of March. It includes cuts to both mandatory and discretionary spending, and does not include a rider that would have defunded Planned Parenthood -- the final sticking point in the negotiations."
Democrats did not want to cut so much from spending, but they agreed in exchange for the Republicans dropping the Planned Parenthood rider, and, the Washington Post reports, "However, Republicans did win the inclusion of a policy rider that forbids public money from going toward abortion procedures in the District of Columbia, a restriction that had previously been enacted when Republicans held power in federal Washington."
A budget funding extension was signed through next Thursday, so there will be time for Congress to get the actual budget compromise put into legislative form. Here are some key points from the budget deal, via the Wall Street Journal:
- Sets discretionary spending for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, at $1.049 trillion. That is $39 billion less than was budgeted for 2010 and $79 billion less than President Obama had requested. House Republicans had wanted $22 billion in additional cuts.
- Includes $513 billion for defense - less than Republicans and President Obama wanted but more than the $508 billion provided in 2010.
- Drops Republican-backed provisions that would have ended funding for the new health-care law, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and National Public Radio.
= Drops Republican-backed provisions that would have barred funding for Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases and for the Federal Communications - Commission to implement "net neutrality" rules.
Bans the use of funds for the transfer of prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba to the U.S. mainland.
- Calls for the Senate to take up-or-down votes on separate bills to cut off funding for the health-care law and to turn federal aid to family-planning programs into block grants to the states.
Bans the use of any public funds - federal or local - to pay for abortions in the District of Columbia.
- Re-establishes a school voucher system for the District of Columbia, a longtime cause of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). The program provides low-income children with vouchers to attend a school of their parents' choice.
- Includes a mandate calling for an annual audit of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which had been created by last year's Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. Republicans have been widely critical of the law.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "This has been a lot of discussion and a long fight. But we fought to keep government spending down because it really will in fact help create a better environment for job creators in our country." And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, "We didn’t do it at this late hour for drama. We did it because it has been hard to arrive at this point."