Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby-trafficking scandal

Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

Americas

US Congress agrees on ‘historic’ budget cuts

Video by Oliver FARRY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-09

The US Congress reached a last-minute deal on budget cuts Friday night, agreeing to slash $38 billion in federal spending – the biggest annual cutback in the country's history according to President Obama – effectively dodging a government shutdown.

AP - President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached a historic, last-minute agreement late Friday night to slash about $38 billion in federal spending and avert the first federal government shutdown in 15 years.

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, and won an ovation from his rank and file - conservative tea party adherents among them.
 
“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.
 
Amid the biggest clash yet between Democrats and the resurgent Republicans who control the House, 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 the Republicans of wanting to cut vital government services and pushing a social agenda.
 
The deal came together after six grueling weeks and an outbreak of budget brinksmanship over the past few days as the two sides sought to squeeze every drop of advantage in private talks.
 
Obama, Boehner and 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 efforts such as air traffic control would have continued in effect.
 
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 lawmakers did succeed in winning a provision to ban the use of federal or local government funds to pay for abortions in the capital district of Washington.
 
Lawmakers 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.
 
Reid, Obama and 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 - 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.
 
For much of the day, Reid and Boehner disagreed about what the disagreement was about.
 
“Republicans want to shut down our nation’s government because they want to make it harder to get cancer screenings,” he said. “They want to throw women under the bus.”
 
Boehner said repeatedly that wasn’t the case - it was spending cuts that divided two sides.
 
“Most of the policy issues have been dealt with, and the big fight is about spending,” he said. “When will the White House and when will Senate Democrats get serious about cutting federal spending.”
 
By midday Friday, 12 hours before the funding would run out, most federal employees had been told whether they had been deemed essential or would be temporarily laid off in the event of a shutdown.
 
Obama canceled his scheduled travel plans and kept in touch with both Boehner and Reid.
 
The standoff began several weeks ago, when the new Republican majority in the House passed legislation to cut $61 billion from federal spending and place numerous curbs on the government.
 
In the weeks since, the two sides have alternately negotiated and taken time out to pass interim measures.
 
For Congress and Obama there are even tougher struggles still ahead - over a Republican budget that would remake entire federal programs, and a vote to raise the nation’s debt limit.

 

 

Date created : 2011-04-09

  • US POLITICS

    White House 2012: The Republican presidential hopefuls

    Read more

COMMENT(S)