No shutdown, Congress says in 11th hour
Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama reached an agreement Friday night that kept the federal government in business while including cuts of $39 billion from current spending.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the agreement the “largest real-dollar spending cut in American history” and Obama said from the White House that some of the cuts will be painful.
“Programs people rely on will be cut back,” Obama said. “Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed.”
A short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday included a bridge agreement that will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings and avoid a government shutdown that would have closed Colorado National Monument and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park today, among all parks and monuments across the country.
“Thank God sanity prevailed,” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said Friday night. “Now we can move on to a real, substantive conversation about a comprehensive plan that will reduce our debt and deficit in the long term.”
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said he is disappointed that the agreement didn’t break military funding from the rest of federal spending.
“I would be prepared for the military to be a stand-alone vote,” Tipton said. “I’m tired of the military being used as a political pawn by Republicans and Democrats.”
Specific information about the cuts won’t be available until the deal is published, said Tipton, who had pledged not to take a paycheck in the event of a shutdown.
“A lot of 11th-hour decisions are being made,” Tipton said. “That seems to be the way business often gets done here.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said he will seek support for a measure intended to prevent either party from using a shutdown threat to pursue partisan aims.
“I will continue my efforts to gather support for my bill and bring it to the floor for a vote because using political games to play with people’s lives is unacceptable,” Udall said.
Udall’s bill would require funds automatically be appropriated at the previous year’s level if a budget agreement couldn’t be reached.
Bennet and Udall sponsored a discussion of the federal debt on Friday in Denver. They were unable to attend the event, but former Sen. Al Simpson, R-Wyo., a co-chairman of the president’s deficit commission, told the gathering that budget cuts are imperative.
“Double-digit growth for the next 20 to 30 years will not get us out of this hole,” Simpson said.
Over the next decade, the agreement is expected to cut more than $500 billion from the federal budget, Boehner added, according to a participant in the meeting.
In a joint statement, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the agreement included a “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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.