Harry Reid Announces Deal to Avert Government Shutdown
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today announced he has reached a deal with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Barack Obama to keep the government funded for half of the next fiscal year.
“This agreement reached between the Senate, the House and the White House provides stability for the coming months, when we will have to resolve critical issues that directly affect middle-class families,” Reid said in a statement. “The funding levels in the six-month CR will correspond to the top-line funding level of $1.047 trillion. I hope that we can face the challenges ahead in the same spirit of compromise.”
At a press availability this afternoon, Reid added that the continuing resolution would be “free of riders.”
Current funding runs out at the end of the government’s fiscal year Sept. 30, and without new appropriations or a stopgap continuing resolution, the government would shut down.
A House GOP leadership aide indicated that the deal would help Republicans avoid a politically costly fight in an election year. “Taking this issue off the table will keep the larger focus on jobs, the economy and President Obama’s failed economic policies. That’s where Republicans win and Democrats lose,” the aide said.
The continuing resolution could not be considered by either chamber until after the August recess, sources said, because the Congressional Budget Office would need time to score the proposal. In addition, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget will need to provide appropriations committee staffers with lists of changes from the current spending levels called “anomalies” for inclusion in the measure.
Before Reid’s announcement, Sen. Thad Cochran, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations panel, expressed hope that a deal would be reached as soon as possible.
“I think it’s a good idea to pass an appropriations bill as soon as we can. The agencies and departments need to have something they can count on in term of budget numbers for the next fiscal year,” the Mississippi Republican said. “So the sooner we do this, the better off we are going to be.”
Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Monday night that party leaders were continuing to discuss the structure of the continuing resolution, with six months likely to be its duration. “That’s the range they are talking about,” she said.
Stabenow said other measures might be attached to the continuing resolution. One possibility, she said, was to add disaster assistance for farmers to deal with the drought in the Midwest. “It could be, if people agreed to it. A lot of things are expiring Sept. 30,” Stabenow said. She said the CR was unlikely to be completed until September.
However, sources today said House GOP leaders were thinking of moving a separate disaster aid measure this week, before adjourning for the August recess.
There’s been a growing consensus among lawmakers across the political spectrum that it would be best to delay the wrap-up of fiscal 2013 appropriations into the next session of Congress. Fiscal 2013 begins Oct. 1, making it critical that Congress clear a continuing resolution before Members of the House and about a third of the Senate head home to campaign in October.
Many members of the conservative House Republican Study Committee have said they would grudgingly support a CR set at the fiscal 2013 level agreed to in last year’s debt limit deal and also accept interim funding for implementing the 2010 health overhaul in exchange for delaying fiscal 2013 appropriations. Republicans are betting on gains in November that could enable them to push for deep spending cuts next year.
Meredith Shiner, Dan Newhauser and Kerry Young contributed to this report.