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04.08.11

Shutdown Averted: Inside the Budget Deal

Just hours after averting a government shutdown, the White House is bracing for an ever bigger fight—nailing down details for the next six months of federal spending.

President Obama, in his weekly radio address Saturday, praised Republicans and Democrats for agreeing on a budget proposal that calls for about $38 billion in spending cuts and avoids a government shutdown. “This is an agreement to invest in our country's future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history," Obama said. "Like any compromise, this required everyone to give ground on issues that were important to them… Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful—programs people rely on will be cut back; needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.”

But the battle isn't over. Over the next week, Congressional leaders will have to hammer out the details of a tentative plan to keep the government running until September 30, when the 2011 fiscal year ends. As terms of the compromise, the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution on Friday night that will cut $2 billion and keep the federal government running until Thursday. That’ll leave just five or six days to work out the final details of the longer-term spending bill, which will aim to slash $38 billion from the budget before the end of the 2011 fiscal year in September. “We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts,” Reid said, and indeed they have: The $39 billion deal marks the largest annual budget cut in U.S. history.

And some leading national Tea Party organizations, who have gained a lot of cloud in Speaker Boehner's House, are not so happy with the agreement. "It just shows that the Tea Party has a lot more work to do in ousting the spending-addicted liberal Democrats who refuse to stop acting like selfish children incapable of making the tough decisions voters have demanded,” Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell told CNN. Rep. Michele Bachmann agreed with her Tea Party cohorts, adding the agreement “is a disappointment for me and for millions of Americans who expected $100 billion in cuts.”

“This is the best deal we could get out of them,” Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans after a marathon meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “We will in fact cut spending and keep our government open."

In order to resolve some of the stickier partisan issues that held up much of the talks, such as abortion and climate change, the two chambers will also vote separately on the fate of funding for Planned Parenthood, the EPA, and health-care reform—each on up/down votes.

Obama sounded an ambivalent tone when he announced the deal at his own press conference. “Both sides had to make tough decisions,” the president said. “Like any worthwhile compromise both sides had to make tough decision and give ground on issues that are important to them and I certainly did that. Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful, some of the programs people relied on will be cut back, infrastructure projects will be delayed...beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America to compete for new jobs.”

Watch: Obama Addresses the Budget Deal

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