GOP, Democratic leaders reach $38.5 billion deal on spending bill

Jonathan Strong | Contributor

Republican and Democratic leaders have agreed to a deal for $39 billion in spending cuts and a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown while legislation reflecting the deal is enacted.

The last-minute agreement would cut $38.5 billion in domestic spending over the rest of Fiscal Year 2011 and increase defense spending by $5 billion.

“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,” said Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a joint statement.

President Obama touted the deal as the “largest annual spending cut in our history” and expressed happiness the Washington Monument would remain open Saturday.

Although none of the major, controversial policy riders were included, a series of lesser provisions were.

Those include a ban on D.C. spending public funds on abortion as well as guaranteed votes on restrictions to the president’s health care law, among others.

Also included was a guaranteed up or down vote on defunding Planned Parenthood in the Senate.

As Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner pitched the deal to rank-and-file members, reaction was mostly positive but several key conservative members expressed disappointment by shaking their heads, a source in the room said.

Rep. Brian Bilbray, California Republican, said concern about the deal did not come from the large class of GOP freshmen, but from veteran conservative lawmakers. “There’s a real degree of maturity among the freshmen,” Bilbray said.

Rep. Mike Fitzgpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican, said the size of the cuts “sounds pretty historic to me.”

Fitzpatrick said the GOP budget introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan earlier in the week made agreeing to the deal easier. “It refocused attention…because Ryan, that’s the bigger fight,” Fitzpatrick said.

Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the GOP Policy Committee, issued a terse statement that did not praise the deal but said at least it will let Congress “move beyond this current debate” and onto more significant cuts.

Rep. Michele Bachmann vowed on Fox News to vote against the bill and said there were many members like her who thought “now was the time to fight.”

The deal does not include policy riders that would have defunded Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, or a series of EPA regulations.

However, besides the vote on defunding Planned Parenthood, Republicans are guaranteed a vote to repeal Obamacare in the Senate. Although the vote is extremely unlikely to pass, it could prove a potent political weapon for the GOP.

Other riders included in the deal include lower funding for the IRS to implement Obamacare and a series of studies that will examine the law’s impacts in more detail. One provision provides for a “full audit” of the Obamacare waivers provided to companies and unions.

For the deal to become final, both the House and Senate will need to pass a bill reflecting its contents and President Obama will have to sign the legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also sought to focus attention on the larger issue of deficit spending in a speech on the Senate floor announcing the deal.

Tags : government shutdown john boehner
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