**Written by Doug Powers
We had about ten updates and several hundred comments on the other budget/shutdown watch thread, so we’ll move to a weekend version for more discussion.
One of the greatest tragedies this nation has ever encountered was narrowly averted last night. I speak of course of the devastation a government shutdown would have wrought on the cherry blossom festival.
As you have probably heard, a temporary budget deal has been reached:
With little more than an hour to go before a midnight government shutdown, President Obama and congressional leaders said Friday night they struck a tentative deal to give themselves more breathing space as they finalize a long-term bill to cut $37.7 billion in spending.
Early Saturday morning, when the government technically had run out of money, Congress passed and sent a short-term spending bill to the White House that keeps the government open until the end of next week. During that reprieve, the House and Senate are expected to pass a broader bill that funds the government for the rest of fiscal year 2011, which ends Sept. 30.
The leaders said the cuts are “historic,” and congratulated each other for reaching a deal, but a small rebellion was brewing among conservative Republicans who said it does not make the kinds of deep reductions they were seeking and that the House passed earlier this year.
“Tomorrow, I’m pleased to announce that the Washington Monument as well as the entire federal government will be open for business,” Mr. Obama said at the White House late Friday, minutes after House Speaker John A. Boehner announced the deal at the Capitol.
Who “won” this thing? Opinions will vary. Harry Reid called it “historic,” which isn’t exactly a confidence booster. Yesterday Reid accused Republicans of wanting to kill women and today he made history with them? Did they find middle ground and decide to only make them slightly ill?
Under the terms of the agreement, the six-month bill will slash $38.5 billion from current spending levels, which is $23 billion less than the reductions Republicans originally demanded but $30 billion more than what Democrats had initially offered to cut.
Here’s a little perspective: That’s some $38 billion in proposed cuts through the rest of the fiscal year ending in September. The federal debt has increased $54.1 billion in the past eight days.
Simply slowing the meteoric increase in deficit spending is like choosing between going to hell in a fast handbasket or slightly slower gas can, so to that degree my fellow conservatives might feel like the Republicans lost this round (you’ll notice that the debt clock is still going up, not down).
At the same time though, according to the Washington Times, there is $78.5 billion less spending than what the president had requested for 2011, and the Democrats agreed to it. As Ed Morrissey at Hot Air pointed out, that’s not bad for a party that only controls one chamber of Congress and doesn’t occupy the White House. Not bad for a flea either, eh, Chuck?
As for the Planned Parenthood sticking point, here’s what happened with that:
The bill does not include a Republican provision to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which provides health care services for women, including abortion. The Planned Parenthood provision was one of the main sticking points during the negotiations, with the GOP insisting it remain in the bill.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, agreed to remove the Planned Parenthood provision in exchange for an agreement that would allow Congress to take up the funding issue separately. The Republicans also won inclusion of a provision that will require the Senate to vote on a bill to de-fund the health care reform law.
Much more will come of all this as the days go on.
**Written by Doug Powers
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