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US Congress Averts Government Shutdown Ahead of Midnight Deadline


President Barack Obama poses for photographers in the Blue Room at the White House in Washington after he spoke regarding the budget and the averted government shutdown after a deal was made between Republican and Democrat lawmakers, April 8, 2011

President Barack Obama poses for photographers in the Blue Room at the White House in Washington after he spoke regarding the budget and the averted government shutdown after a deal was made between Republican and Democrat lawmakers, April 8, 2011

U.S. lawmakers have reached an agreement to cut billions of dollars from the federal budget and avoid a government shutdown minutes before a midnight deadline.

President Barack Obama said there are "painful cuts" in the deal reached late Friday, which slashes some $38 billion dollars from the 2011 budget.

The Senate has passed the temporary funding measure, which is being rushed to the House of Representatives for approval. A vote on the full budget is expected later this week.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner said it was "a long fight," but said it was important to keep spending down to create a better environment for creating jobs.

Senate Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said the compromise was difficult but important for the country. He said if the American people have to make tough choices, so should lawmakers.

Without an agreement, about 800,000 of 1.9 million federal employees would be furloughed, and pay for combat troops would be suspended.

Earlier in the day, Reid said the entire budget was being held up over a single issue - a Republican proposal to ban $300 million in federal spending for Planned Parenthood, a group that provides health care services including abortions.

The agreement reached Friday, however, does not include the so-called riders on social issues.

In a months-long dispute, Republicans and Democrats have disagreed about how much and where to cut spending, and already are blaming each other for the budget impasse. Newly elected Tea Party members among the Republican majority that controls the House of Representatives have sought the most extensive spending cuts.

Reid accused Tea Party supporters of trying to enact an "extreme agenda" in pushing for limits on abortion rights and enforcement of environmental laws. He said Democrats would willingly debate these issues in separate legislation, but insisted they did not belong in the budget plan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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