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Congress Strikes Deal To Avoid Government Shutdown

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Members of Congress finally reached a deal to fund the federal government for the reset of the fiscal year late Thursday evening.
Adam Fagen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/afagen/4177588781/)
Members of Congress finally reached a deal to fund the federal government for the reset of the fiscal year late Thursday evening.

A tentative deal has been reached to avoid a government shutdown. The $1 trillion spending agreement gives federal agencies the money they'll need to keep the government running next year. This happened last night, about 27 hours before the current stopgap bill funding the government would have expired. 

The tentative agreement would avoid budget cycle that has plagued Washington for the past several months, in which Congress passes a continuing resolution, or temporary bill, only to pass another one once it expires. The $1 trillion deal would fund the government through the next nine months to the end of Fiscal Year 2012.

This week marked the fourth time in 2011 that the government nearly shut down; in April, a deal came just minutes before a federal funding bill expired, and there was another close call in August. 

The deal is a precursor to another one that is expected to be made on payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance -- items that President Obama told Congress were "a must" before members left on holiday recess. 

Agencies had prepped for partial shutdown

Still, the agreement to fund federal agencies came close to the wire -- so much so that those agencies were told to come up with contingency plans should the government have shut down. Rep. Jim Moran (D) represents a lot of the federal workers that would have lost their paycheck with the holidays coming up.

"I don't think we should have been having to send out notices to federal employees to prepare for a shutdown," Moran said Thursday evening. "That's just an indictment of the legislative process. I'm embarrassed that it happened, but I think the chances of a shutdown are zero."

This initial agreement could be a first step towards extending the $120 billion payroll tax break for two months while lawmakers figure out how to offset its cost so it doesn't increase the deficit.

 

Budget deal includes policy provisions for D.C.

The last minute budget deal crafted by lawmakers last night has come at the expense of two programs that are near and dear to the hearts of D.C. government officials. The White House has agreed to demands by Republican lawmakers to continue a ban on D.C. government-funded abortions for low-income women in the District, even if those abortions are paid with funds generated by D.C. taxpayers.

Those provisions are sure to anger D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council, who accuse the White House of sacrificing the district for sake of political expediency, and accuse Republican lawmakers of imposing a social agenda on the District even though no one in the district has voted for any of the members of Congress.

Correction: We originally reported that the budget deal blocked funding for D.C.'s needle exchange program as well, however that is not the case.

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