“I’m pleased that Senator Reid and I and the White House have been able to come to an agreement that will, in fact, cut spending and keep our government open,” Boehner said at an impromptu news conference, mentioning Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Shortly after, President Obama read a statement from the White House, pointing out that the Washington Monument, seen lit up over his shoulder, would be open as usual on Saturday.
“Today, Americans of different beliefs came together,” Obama said. He said the cuts would be painful but necessary to maintain the country’s fiscal health. “We protected the investments we need to win the future.”
To keep the government running through Friday, lawmakers approved a short-term spending measure overnight — the Senate at 12:20 a.m. and the House at 12:40 a.m. — and said the final agreement should be approved next week.
If that happens, the measure would cut $37.8 billion from the federal budget through the end of September, congressional aides said.
Democrats had wanted to cut billions less: they assented to the larger figure, and in return Republicans dropped a demand to take federal funds from the group Planned Parenthood, according to aides in both parties.
However, Republicans did win the inclusion of a policy rider that forbids public money from going toward abortion procedures in the District of Columbia, a restriction that had previously been enacted when Republicans held power in federal Washington. The deal also adds money for one of Boehner’s favored projects, a program that provides low-income District students with money to attend private schools.
After 11 p.m., Reid described the negotiations briefly in a speech on the Senate floor.
“We didn’t do it at this late hour for drama, we did it because it’s been very hard to arrive at this point,” Reid said. “Both sides have had to make tough choices. But tough choices is what this job’s all about.”
The cuts, if enacted, would add up to the largest budget reduction for federal agencies in U.S. history. Some conservative Republicans had pushed for much more and grumbled about the compromise Friday.
But this was still a compromise made on their terms — and a sign of their power. Inside a few months, an ascendant Republican Party has managed to impose its small-government agenda on a town still largely controlled by Democrats.
“It’s all that one-half of one-third of the government can hope for,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), emerging from a caucus meeting after the deal was struck. “In democracy, you compromise.”
The budget agreement is not yet law. On Friday, there simply wasn’t time to make it legal before midnight.