Last-minute deal averts government shutdown

Washington Bureau

Congressional negotiators struck a last-minute deal to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, congressional leaders and the White House said late Friday, averting a threatened shutdown.

The House and Senate are expected to approve a seven-day stopgap measure to keep the government running until the final details of the agreement can be worked out.

Talks continued deep into the evening until, finally, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) met with his caucus to outline the details of the proposed compromise, one in which Republicans succeeded in securing nearly $38 billion in cuts from current spending levels.

The GOP avoided a shutdown that many Republicans feared would damage the party politically in the eyes of the American public, one that would have resulted in the furloughs of 800,000 federal workers, the closing of national parks, and the disruption of many government services.

Democrats could take solace that none of the Republican House’s proposed policy provisions, including one to defund Planned Parenthood that consumed much of the attention of the final day of negotiations, along with riders that would have limited the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, were included in the final package.


Appearing briefly before reporters to announce the deal, Boehner said a final vote would take place next week.

“This has been a lot of discussion and a long fight,” Boehner said. “We fought to keep government spending down.” He did not take questions.

Moments later, President Obama hailed the tentative agreement from the Blue Room of the White House.

“Americans of different beliefs came together again,” he said, the Washington Monument visible behind him. “The government will be open for business.”

As part of the accord, the Senate will hold standalone votes on the Planned Parenthood provision as well as a measure that would defund President Obama’s healthcare initiative. Neither vote is likely to pass.

The possible deal comes after a day of private negotiations and public posturing over how and how much the federal government should spend for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Both sides said they wanted to avoid a government shutdown. On the floors of the House and Senate and before television cameras throughout the Capitol, members of Congress expressed deep regret over a looming shutdown while pointing fingers across the aisle.

Congressional leaders had shuttled between the Capitol and the White House all week, but Obama did not take part in direct talks on Friday. He had canceled a planned trip to Indiana to discuss energy, and also a planned weekend getaway with his family to Williamsburg, Va.