House and Senate leaders on Tuesday bought themselves a little more time in their efforts to avoid a government shutdown, agreeing to a two-week funding extension that also includes $4 billion in spending cuts.
The deal, which eliminates dozens of earmarks and a handful of little-known programs that President Obama has identified as unnecessary, sailed through the House on a 335 to 91 vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who initially resisted including any cuts in a short-term funding extension, predicted that it will pass that chamber as early as Wednesday.
Obama also got involved, after largely staying on the sidelines. He placed a 10-minute call to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to discuss the temporary spending bill.
If the Senate approves the measure, the two parties will have until March 18 before the government runs out of money. Both parties know there is a limit to the short-term reprieves they can come up with, however. Ultimately, they must find common ground on a longer-term spending plan that will keep the government in business through the end of the fiscal year, on Sept. 30.
The House passed a measure last month that would reduce spending by $61 billion over the seven months left in this fiscal year. The Democrats who control the Senate say those cuts are far too steep and would endanger both the economic recovery and a host of vital programs. Obama has said he would veto the bill.
Also read "Conceding defeat this time, Senate Dems pledge to win next round" from The Hill and "The public no longer sees government shutdown as a 'train wreck'" from Washington Examiner.