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Friday
Apr082011

It's a Deal: Congressional Leaders Strike Last Minute Deal, Avoid Shutdown

Antonio M. Rosario/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After long and hard-fought negotiations on the budget of the 2011 fiscal year, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were able to strike a deal at the last minute, avoiding what would have been the government's 18th shutdown at midnight.

At a late night meeting Friday with his Republican members, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called it "the best deal we could get."

In a joint statement, Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "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."

Boehner and Reid say this agreement will cut $78.5 billion below President Obama's 2011 budget proposal.

Democrats and Republicans alike had been prepared to blame the other in the event of a so-called "spending gap" that would have caused 800,000 federal workers to be furloughed in addition to the potentially damaging economic effects of a shutdown.

In recent weeks, congressional leaders had failed to agree on what cuts ought to be made to the federal budget, like whether or not to eliminate $363 million in federal funding to women's health care centers including Planned Parenthood. 

As of Thursday night, President Obama told Speaker John Boehner that he could agree to more spending cuts if programs he supports -- such as Head Start -- were spared, and more cuts were made in the Pentagon Budget and "mandatory" spending programs required by law.

Boehner agreed in theory.  They both agreed that their teams would find a number between $35 billion and $39 billion.  The size of the cut would come down to the composition of what was being cut.  At that time, Boehner could not commit to ending the demand that Planned Parenthood would be de-funded.

By the end of Friday night's negotiations, Congressional leaders were able to agree upon a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the government functioning through next week while details of a long-term deal are ironed out.  The short-term bridge, both Boehner and Reid say, will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.

Sources say that the current agreement does not eliminate funding for the controversial Planned Parenthood issue and that Republicans have agreed to put it aside, at least for now.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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