WASHINGTON (AP) - The top
Republican and Democrat on Capitol Hill have announced an agreement to
keep the government running on autopilot for six months when the current
budget year ends on Sept. 30.
The announcements by
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP House Speaker John
Boehner are aimed at averting any chance of a government shutdown this
fall. The legislation will pass in September.
The deal would also lighten the crush of business in a post-election congressional session agenda that's already overloaded.
"The speaker and I and the
president have agreed that we're going to fund the government for the
next six months," Reid said. "It'll provide stability for the coming
The agreement would fund
the government at levels called for by last summer's budget and debt
pact between Boehner and President Barack Obama.
While precise details will
be ironed out over the August congressional recess, the deal embraces
spending at a total annualized rate of $1.047 trillion for the
day-to-day operations of Cabinet departments like the Pentagon and other
"We are encouraged that
both sides have agreed to resolve this issue without delay," White House
Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The President has made
clear that it is essential that the legislation to fund the government
adheres to the funding levels agreed to by both parties last year."
That's a retreat for
Republicans, who had sought to cut $19 billion below the budget
agreement reached last summer with President Barack Obama and shift $8
billion more from domestic agencies to the Pentagon. The alternative of
risking a government shutdown just weeks before Election Day was an
unacceptable alternative to GOP leaders who want to keep the spotlight
off of Congress and on the presidential race in the weeks running up to
A House GOP leadership aide
said the decision to take the issue of a government shutdown "off the
table" was intended to keep the larger focus on jobs and the economy,
where Republicans think Obama has failed and is most politically
vulnerable. The aide required anonymity because he or she was assessing
the political considerations of the decision and was not authorized to
do so publicly.
The six-month funding bill,
known as a "continuing resolution" in Washington parlance, punts a huge
number of decisions into the lap of the next Congress and whoever
inhabits the White House. If Mitt Romney is president, he has promised
immediate 5 percent across-the-board cuts to most domestic
appropriations accounts funded by Congress every year. Obama vows to
live within the 10-year spending "caps" agreed to last year.
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