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Deal averts government shutdown

U.S. President Barack Obama leaves after making a statement to the media after an evening meeting with Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on April 7, 2011 at the Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Boehner and Reid returned to the White House to continue their meeting with Obama to try to reach a deal on the budget to avoid a shutdown of the government, but no agreement has been reached yet. UPI/Alex Wong/Pool
U.S. President Barack Obama leaves after making a statement to the media after an evening meeting with Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on April 7, 2011 at the Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Boehner and Reid returned to the White House to continue their meeting with Obama to try to reach a deal on the budget to avoid a shutdown of the government, but no agreement has been reached yet. UPI/Alex Wong/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- U.S. budget negotiators announced agreement late Friday on funding federal government operations, averting a government shutdown.

President Barack Obama said the agreement calls for "the largest annual spending cut in our nation's history" while retaining "investment we need to win the future."

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In a brief announcement before reporters on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the agreement "will in fact cut spending and keep our government open."

Boehner said he expected a final vote on the proposal next week and said Congress will approve a so-called bridge funding measure Friday to keep the government from shutting down when current funding authority expires at midnight EDT.

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"We fought to keep government spending down because it really will in fact create a better environment for job creators in our country," Boehner said.

The Senate approved the stopgap measure in a unanimous consent vote shortly after 11 p.m. EDT.

In an appearance on the Senate floor late Friday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the bridge agreement will keep the government operating through Thursday, giving officials time to complete work on a longer-term spending resolution.

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"This agreement between Democrats and Republicans on behalf of all Americans is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history," Obama said at the White House.

The president said the agreement required "painful" cuts and a delay in addressing "needed infrastructure projects."

"I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances," he said.

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However, Obama said "we protected the investments we need to win the future."

If authorization for federal funding had been permitted to expire about 800,000 federal employees faced furlough and some government services and programs would have been curtailed.

Reid said earlier Friday Republicans wanted to shut down the government "because they want to make it harder for women to get health services," charging that Title X funding, in which the federal government provides funding for family planning services, was targeted by Tea Party activists. Title X funding does not provide money for abortions but Planned Parenthood offers abortion services and receives federal funds for other health services.

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Democrats agreed to "hard but important" cuts to reach agreement on a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, but "now the Tea Party, among others … is trying to move this extreme social agenda that has nothing to do with the budget," Reid said.

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"The issue is spending," Boehner told reporters early Friday.

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