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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee