Last-minute deal averts government shut down

Last-minute deal averts government shut down

"In the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down, leaders in both parties reached an agreement that will allow our small businesses to get the loans they need, our families to get the mortgages they applied for and hundreds of thousands of Americans to show up at work and take home their paychecks on time, including our brave men and women in uniform," US President Barack Obama announced about an hour before the shutdown was to begin Friday mid-night.

"This agreement between Democrats and Republicans on behalf of all Americans is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history. Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them. And I certainly did that," Obama said speaking from the historic Blue Room of the White House.

Obama's statement was preceded by hours of negotiations and several meetings between Obama, the House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"We have agreed to an 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," said Reid and Boehner in a joint statement.

"We will cut USD 78.5 billion below the President's 2011 budget proposal and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders," they said.

"In the meantime, the Congress passed a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first USD 2 billion of the total savings," the two Congressional leaders said.

The news was first broken by Boehner himself at Capitol Hill, less than 70 minutes before the imminent government shutdown.

"I'm pleased that Senator Reid and I and the White House have been able to come to an agreement that will, in fact, cut spending and keep our government open. And I expect that the House will vote yet tonight on a short-term continuing resolution till next week to allow for time for this agreement to be put together in legislative form and brought to the floor of the House and Senate for a vote," he said.

"As you all know, this has been a lot of discussion and a long fight. But we fought to keep government spending down because it really will, in fact, help create a better environment for job creators in our country," Boehner said.

Ten minutes later, Obama went on air to thank Boehner and Reid for their leadership and their dedication during this process.

"A few months ago, I was able to sign a tax cut for American families because both parties worked through their differences and found common ground. Now the same cooperation will make possible the biggest annual spending cut in history," Obama said.

"And it's my sincere hope that we can continue to come together as we face the many difficult challenges that lie ahead, from creating jobs and growing our economy to educating our children and reducing our deficit. That's what the American people expect us to do. That's why they send us here," he said.

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