Congress Strikes Budget Deal; Pro-Lifers Gain Some Wins

Avoiding a government shutdown, congressional leaders agreed to a budget that will immediately cut $38.5 billion in federal spending – the largest spending cut in American history in terms of dollars.

After weeks of negotiations, Republicans and Democrats made a deal late Friday while also approving a stopgap measure to keep the government running and give Congress another week for final approval.

"I’m pleased to announce that the Washington Monument, as well as the entire federal government, will be open for business. And that's because today Americans of different beliefs came together again," President Barack Obama said in a statement Friday night.

The compromise between both parties "required everyone to give ground on issues that were important to them," Obama noted. "I certainly did."

The GOP push to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood failed. While a huge disappointment for pro-lifers who have been demanding that the abortion provider be defunded, the final deal does include a ban on the use of government funds to pay for abortion-related services in the District of Columbia.

Other policy "riders" by the Republican Party were struck down, including one that would limit the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate certain kinds of air pollution and another that would defund Obamacare.

Still, the deal also includes guarantees that the Democratic-controlled Senate will vote on cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and for Obamacare. And both parties agreed to cut $78.5 billion from Obama's 2011 budget proposal to end what Republicans have called a "spending binge" in Washington.

Obama stressed that they prevented the debate on federal spending for the remainder of the fiscal year "from being overtaken by politics and unrelated disagreements on social issues."

"[W]e ... made sure that at the end of the day, this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues like women’s health and the protection of our air and water," Obama stated. "These are important issues that deserve discussion, just not during a debate about our budget."

"Reducing spending while still investing in the future is just common sense," said Obama. "That’s what families do in tough times. They sacrifice where they can, even if it’s hard, to afford what’s really important."

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