Shutdown, furloughs averted at the 11th hour

Fiscal 2011 budget expected next week

With less than two hours to spare, Congress reached a deal on the fiscal 2011 budget and have apparently averted a shutdown that had been feared for weeks.

Late Friday, at almost literally the 11th hour, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the agreement, which also included another short-term measure to allow time to put the agreed-to budget into legislative form and pass it through the necessary process in Congress. The Senate passed the short-term measure shortly after the announcement. The House passed it at about 12:30 a.m.

"This has been a lot of discussion and a long fight," Boehner said  in announcing the deal late Friday night. CNN reported that the budget contains $39 billion in spending cuts.

President Obama spoke shortly after 11 p.m., acknowledging that the cuts would be painful for many. "I would not have made these cuts under better circumstances," he said.

However, he said, many programs important to his administration were preserved, he said. "We protected the investments we need to win the future," Obama said, repeating a refrain from his State of the Union speech in January.

"Both sides have had to make tough choices. But tough choices are what this job's all about," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "This is historic, what we've done."

The move does not permanently end the possibility of a shutdown. Although Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement for the fiscal 2011 budget, they still must pass it formally and the president must sign it. While the outlook is good, until it is done the shutdown risk remains.

The latest continuing resolution will expire on April 14.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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