Congress Strikes Deal to Fund Government…For Now
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner today announced a six-month agreement to avert a government shutdown. But the deal punts a larger spending battle to next January after whoever gets elected this November takes office.
"We've got an agreement," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said today following the Democrats weekly caucus lunch. "This is very good, because we can resolve these critical issues that directly affect the country soon as the election's over and move on to do good things. It puts this out of the way, and that's very important."
Congress will not pass the legislation before the August recess, but leaders said they expect to vote on it shortly after returning from a five-week recess September 10.
"During the August district work period, committee members and their staff will write legislation that can be passed by the House and Senate in September and sent to President Obama to be signed into law," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement announcing the deal.
The White House called the deal "a welcome development."
"The President has made clear that it is essential that the legislation to fund the government adheres to the funding levels agreed to by both parties last year, and not include ideological or extraneous policy riders," White House press secretary Jay Carney wrote in a statement. "The President will work with leaders in both parties to sign a bill that accomplishes these goals."
Current funding runs out on Sept 30, leaving just eight legislative days on the House schedule after Labor Day to get something passed through both chambers. An appropriations aide said the committee "won't even start writing [the continuing resolution] until we get updated info from CBO/OMB in late August."
One senior House GOP leadership aide said that the deal takes the issue "off the table" ahead of the election this fall and 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 funding levels in the agreement will correspond to the top-line funding level of $1.047 trillion, passed into law last summer in the Budget Control Act, and push the next spending battle to the 113 th Congress.
Further details of the agreement were not immediately clear. One remaining question is whether Republicans will fund certain provisions from the Affordable Care Act in the CR, but GOP leaders are hoping to avoid the distraction of a potential government shutdown. Boehner has hinted that the House could allow the provisions of current law to be implemented and funded, since the GOP's efforts to repeal the law have been mostly futile.
"I expect that we'll have an agreement with the Senate on a CR. As you all know, CRs do contain some changes but usually not many changes, and…the House has voted now 33 times to defund and repeal and change "Obamacare," Boehner told reporters July 24. "Our goal would be to make sure the government is funded and any political talk of a government shutdown is put to rest."
ABC News' Mary Bruce contributed to this report