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Budget Deal Reached, Shutdown Averted

An hour before the midnight Friday deadline, Speaker John Boehner said Friday night that a deal has been reached with Democrats on the federal budget to avoid a government shutdown.

The proposal raised the level of cuts to $39 billion from this year’s budget, but spared slashes to groups such as Planned Parenthood while resolving other policy disagreements around social issues that were attached to the legislation.

The negotiators will vote on a stopgap funding bill fund the government through the weekend.

Speaking from the White House, President Barack Obama said he was pleased that Americans of different beliefs came together to avert a shutdown.

“Behind me, through the window, you can see the Washington Monument, visited each by hundreds of thousands from around the world,” Mr. Obama said. “Tomorrow, I’m pleased to announce that the Washington Monument, as well as the entire federal government, will be open for business.”

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Video: Yarmuth Talks About Potential Shutdown

As budget negotiations continue in Washington, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says the country is on the verge of a government shutdown in a new video message to constituents.

The congressman released the message in response to questions in the district about the cause and impact of a shutdown.

Check it out:

Yarmuth also announced his support of the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act, a bipartisan bill that would guarantee members of the American armed forces receive their full paychecks, on-time in case congressional leaders are unable to reach an agreement before midnight Friday.

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Yarmuth: Chances of Shutdown Deal Are “Very Slim”

With less than 11 hours before the midnight Friday deadline, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., called proposed cuts made by Republicans reckless and doubted a deal will be made to stop a government shutdown.

Top Democrats and Republicans have publicly disagreed about the reasons for an impasse.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters both parties agreed to $38 billion in cuts on Thursday, but negotiations collapsed due to a dispute over funding for the group Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and other health services.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., however, has insisted the disagreement isn’t over social issues, but rather the overall spending cuts proposed in the deal.

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Shutdown Could Play Out as National Failure

In previous stories we’ve asked who the American people will blame if the federal government shuts down. As usual, political observers disagree and point back to the last shutdown as some sort of road map.

The National Journal’s Matthew Cooper says no matter who is to blame—President Barack Obama, Speaker John Boehner or all of the above—the failure will be shared by us all, many of whom will feel the lack of certain services if an agreement isn’t reached before midnight Friday.

From the National Journal:

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took their offices with the promise of reconciliation and productivity. Instead, the government of the most powerful nation on earth is about to run out of money and shut down, putting thousands out of work and shutting down everything from military pay to the National Zoo.

How did it—this incompetence—get this bad? After all, the fight over about $7 billion in differences in this year’s budget is about .02 percent of the $3.5 trillion federal budget. It’s like a family making $100,000 falling apart over $20. And then there’s the fighting over intractable issues like abortion, as if either party was about to renounce long-held philosophies and faiths.

The countdown to shutdown continues.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Paul Proposes Shutdown Prevention Act

With a government shutdown almost a day away, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced an act his office says will ensure that essential federal services continue to function in the absence of a spending bill.

The act goes beyond certain provisions pertaining to a possible shutdown, however, and instructs the U.S. Treasury to pay the U.S. debt in full,  forbids any funds to be spent on President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill and says no federal money can be spent on abortion services.

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Young Questions Obama’s Leadership on Budget Negotiations

Believing there’s still a risk of a government shutdown, U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-In., says President Barack Obama has failed to lead on budget negotiations.

The freshman lawmaker, who represents most of southern Indiana, says the president has punted on the important debate around the federal budget and hasn’t been heavily involved in the mediation.

“President Obama regrettably has been disconnected from this entire negotiation process,” he says. “I know he kicked off his re-election campaign this week and he’s very busy with other things, but right now this one would think would bubble to the top of his list.”

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What a Government Shutdown Could Mean

The impact of a federal government shutdown is highly dependent on what President Barack Obama’s administration determines is “essential” and “non-essential”.

For instance, the White House has made it clear that any personnel and services  “necessary for the safety of life and protection of property” of the country and its citizens will continue.

There are a number of other possibilities, though. Here are a few examples:

  • Social Security: Checks could go out to beneficiaries, but anyone who is a new applicant for benefits may face delays (100,000 delays occurred during 1995 shutdown)
  • IRS: Processing of tax refunds for paper-filed returns (approximately 30 percent of total) would be suspended and other tax assistance programs may not be available (problematic with the filing deadline so soon)
  • Construction permits: Developers and construction crews that need permits from the Army Corps of Engineers or the EPA would likely be delayed in getting to work, as the permitting process could be halted
  • National museums and national parks would be close.

It is expected that federal courts, VA facilities and the U.S. Postal Service are likely to  be open if a shutdown occurs.

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Federal Government Shutdown Looms

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have until midnight Friday to reach a budget agreement before the federal government shuts down, but it’s unclear which side will be blamed if it does.

House Republicans have submitted a plan that would cut trillions of dollars from the budget over the next decade.The White House and congressional Democrats have rejected the plan, saying it burdens poorer Americans.

University of Louisville political science Professor Dewey Clayton says it looks like an agreement may not happen, which could backfire on either President Barack Obama or Speaker John Boehner.

“It seems increasingly that the Republican leadership in particular is fearful of a shutdown because they think that ultimately they may pay politically because of this. And so I would not be surprised in the eleventh hour if Boehner breaks away from the tea partiers and comes up with some sort of compromise,” he says.

The latest polling indicates that there is enough blame to go around.

According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, 37 percent of respondents would blame congressional Republicans if there was a shutdown. Another 20 percent say they would blame Mr. Obama.

Clayton says if a shutdown occurs, people will begin to see federal services they take for granted affected at the local level.

“There are a lot of local federal offices here, and if these people shut down or even go on a sort of limited basis as such that’s going to tie things up,” he says. “When people call looking for services that’s going to be a huge inconvenience to a lot of people and people are not going to be happy about that.”

The last government shut down was from late 1995 to early 1996.

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Yarmuth Slams GOP Budget Plan

Joining top members of the Budget Committee, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., ripped the Republican plan to cut trillions of dollars from the federal budget over the next decade, calling it “payback for the prosperous”.

Check it out:

The GOP budget was unveiled Tuesday by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and would slash $5.8 trillion in projected spending. The plan rests largely on scaling back payments to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

House Democrats say they will offer an alternative budget proposal.

The White House has rejected the plan, saying it would burden seniors, the poor and workers who lose their health care.

The impasse means that a shutdown of the federal government still looms.

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Detractors Say Balanced Budget Amendment Is Misguided

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is in Frankfort to gather support for a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. Paul found support from some conservative state lawmakers, but others were on hand in opposition to the Senator remarks.

Among them was Kentuckians for the Commonwealth member Shekina Lavalle. She agrees that the deficit is a problem, but says Paul’s rhetoric on the topic is too strident.

“I heard ‘runaway freight train’ and these words that expressed that we’re out of control and we can’t reign things in—these really scary metaphors of where America’s headed,” she says. “I think America’s really resilient and I would like to hear my elected officials talk about the resiliency of the United States.”

Lavalle says her organization supports changing revenues through tax reform before drastic budget cuts. A state Senate committee has approved a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to call a constitutional convention to consider the balanced budget amendment. The full Senate will vote on the issue later today. More than 30 other states would need to approve similar action for the amendment to go forward.