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Agreement made to avoid first gov't shutdown in 15 years

April 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Just little over an hour before a midnight deadline, House Speaker John Boehner announced that the White House and congressional leaders reached an agreement to cut billions of dollars in spending to avoid a government shutdown.

"We have an agreement," concurred a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Jon Summers.

Because drafting and then passing the broader legislation could take days, congressional leaders raced to approve a stopgap measure to prevent the onset of the first shutdown in 15 years.

"This has been a long process. This hasn't been an easy process," Reid said. "We've agreed to a historic level of cuts. We will cut $78.5 billion."

Reid had accused the GOP of risking a shutdown because they wanted to make it harder 'for women to get cancer screenings.'

Boehner insisted that spending cuts, not social issues, were blocking agreement to prevent a shutdown.

Democrats said it wasn't about money. They said both sides had reached a deal Thursday night to make $78 billion in budget cuts.

The maneuvering unfolded as President Barack Obama canceled a trip to Indianapolis and spoke in separate phone calls with Reid and Boehner.

If a deal had not been made, hundreds of thousands of government workers would have been furloughed and nonessential government services like national parks would shutter.

Even the military would have been impacted. Troops would still be paid, but they wouldn't receive their checks until a budget was passed.

The fight was primarily focused on government debt and how much to cut, but it was also about politics. Republicans wanted to limit funding for Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The GOP had also been pushing for cuts reaching as high as $40 billion, while Democrats had been offering cuts closer to $30 billion.

In brief remarks on Friday morning, Boehner called on the White House and Senate Democrats to pass a one-week stopgap bill that would fund the Pentagon for six months, cut spending by $12 billion and keep the government operating. The House passed the bill on Thursday.

The White House issued a statement promising a veto if that bill reached the president's desk.

Boehner and Reid met with Obama on Thursday night to try and hammer out a deal. The Associated Press contributed to this story.