August 1, 2012- The Republicans and Democrats in Congress came to an agreement Tuesday to fund government activities until the end of March 2013. The deal eliminated the threat of any agency shutdowns that might have upset voters heading up to the November elections.
The deal was announced by Speaker of the House John Boehner and Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader. The deal funds discretionary federal programs including those from foreign aid and defense to medical research and education. The annual cost is more than $1.047 trillion, which was the level specified by the debt limit agreement made last year.
The full Senate and House still need to approve the agreement by the end of September, which is the end of the government’s fiscal year and when current funding ends. Congress will be out for recess the majority of August and through the first week of September for the Labor Day holiday.
If the deal is passed by the full Congress, the spending extension for six months eliminates another set of difficult bills for yearend that Congress must handle just after the November elections. It also protects the Republicans in Congress from receiving the blame for a possible shutdown of government programs by demanding larger cuts in spending than what had already been agreed to last year in the multi-year deal.
If the Republicans are able to win in November, the extension of six months would put them at a position to force deeper cuts in 2013.