Congress averts shutdown with last-minute spending deal

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached a historic, last-minute agreement just before a midnight deadline to slash about $38 billion (£23bn) in federal spending and avert the first federal government shutdown in 15 years.

Mr Obama hailed the deal as "the biggest annual spending cut in history".



John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, said that over the next decade it would cut government spending by $500 billion (£300bn), and won an ovation from his rank and file - conservative tea party adherents among them.



Amid the biggest clash yet between Democrats and the resurgent Republicans who control the House, Mr Obama had warned that a shutdown would damage the economy's recovery by putting an estimated 800,000 government employees out of work.



The political stakes of a shutdown were huge ahead of next year's presidential and congressional elections.



During the last government shutdown during Bill Clinton's presidency, Republicans got most of the blame in - but there was no assurance that would have happened again.



Since taking control of the House in January, Republicans have vowed to slash what they described as out-of-control spending and curb the federal deficit.



Democrats accused Republicans of wanting to cut vital government services and pushing a social agenda, while Republicans said Democrats were not serious about cutting spending.



The deal came together after six gruelling weeks and an outbreak of budget brinkmanship over the past few days as the two sides sought to squeeze every drop of advantage in private talks.



"This is historic, what we've done," agreed Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the third man involved in negotiations that ratified a new era of divided government.



Mr Obama, Mr Boehner and Mr Reid announced the agreement less than an hour before government funding was due to run out.



The shutdown would have closed national parks and other popular services, though the military would have stayed on duty and other essential operations such as air traffic control would have continued.



The Democrats and the White House rebuffed numerous Republican attempts to curtail the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency and sidetracked their demand to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood, which provides family planning and other medical services.



Anti-abortion politicians did succeed in winning a provision to ban the use of government funds to pay for abortions in the Washington capital district.



Politicians raced to pass an interim measure to prevent a shutdown, however brief, and keep the federal machinery running for the next several days.



The Senate acted within minutes. The House worked past midnight, so the federal government was to be technically unfunded for a short period of time, but there would be little - if any - practical impact



Mr Reid, Mr Obama and Mr Boehner all agreed a shutdown posed risks to an economy still recovering from the worst recession in decades.



But there were disagreements aplenty among the principal players in an early test of divided government - Mr Obama in the White House, fellow Democrats in control in the Senate and a new Republican majority in the House bolstered by conservative tea party-affiliated freshmen.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities & Project Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities & Project Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Software Testing Manager

£30000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

£17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Consultant - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ope...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash