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Some federal employees spent part of the week looking at the possibility, once again, of a government shutdown if Congress failed to reach a budget deal, but it appears a crisis has been averted. Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote today on a $1 trillion funding bill that would fund the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year.
To break down the details, and each side's wins, in the deal, David Hawkings, editor-in-chief of CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey. Here are some highlights:
On Democrats' victories in the latest budget negotiation: President Obama and Democrats won on the last debate that was fought … over our relationship with Cuba," Hawkings notes. "Republicans tried to stop Cuban Americans from sending money back home, or from making visits, and the President preserved that. This was a change that he had made when he came to office, and he fought hard to retain it. It's very important in the bell-weather state of Florida."
Democrats also won a 10 percent budget increase to agencies that will enforce the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, and on environmental de-regulation that Republicans were pushing for that were ultimately not included in the deal.
"They also stopped the Republicans' plan to defund planned parenthood," Hawkings adds.
Republicans, on the other hand, got some of what they wanted: "The most important thing for listeners here is that Republicans won on their insistence on the prohibition on the use of local taxpayer dollars to fund abortions," Hawkings says.
Republicans also managed to stave off an environmental provision set to go into effect in 2012 that would begin phasing out traditional incandescent light bulbs, as well as to cut by 20 percent the "Race to the Top" education program, which rewards the country's top-performing schools.
On whether more conservative Republicans will support the deal: Although the Fiscal Year 2012 spending level was laid out in the debt-limit deal earlier this year, more conservative Republicans tried to revisit that in order to establish a budget below $1 trillion -- but they were rebuffed, Hawkings notes.
"Perhaps 40 of them will vote no, but that will be more than offset by a solid number of Democrats who have signed on to this compromise and will vote for it," Hawkings says. "So there's really very little suspense in the house and probably even less in the Senate."
On the likelihood that lawmakers will also strike a deal on payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance before the end of the year: "It becomes increasingly likely by the hour," Hawkings says. Although some members of the leadership believe a deal may be more palatable after the holiday recess, "the alternative view is they're getting actually quite close to a deal and maybe, if they let them go home for the weekend, by Monday they could have a deal and then they really would be able to put somewhat of a bow on the year."
Correction: In the audio posted with this piece, Hawkings misstates the status of the District of Columbia's needle exchange program in the federal budget deal. The District will still be restricted from using federal funds for needle exchange, but will continue to be able to allocated D.C. tax revenues toward those programs.