Taming the National Debt
Averting a Government Shutdown
footer logo link
Finishing FY 2011
Congress' failure to pass a FY2011 budget in 2010 led to a series of stopgap funding measures known as continuing resolutions.  On March 18, 2011 President Obama signed the sixth continuing resolution keeping the government going through to April 8.  The days leading up to April 8 were filled with politically charged rhetoric (1, 2), and negotiations over the size of spending cuts and over a number of social policy riders continued right up to the wire as a government shutdown looming ever closer...  The agreement, when translated into legislation, cleared the way for funding the government through September 30.
  (See also Obama speech).

PRESS RELEASE from House Speaker John Boehner/Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Joint Statement from Speaker Boehner & Senate Majority Leader Reid on Bipartisan Agreement To Cut Spending, Keep Government Open

Washington (Apr 8)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tonight released the following statement:

“We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President.  We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders.  In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday.  That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.”

from the Office of Speaker of the House John Boehner
Here are some key facts on the bipartisan agreement:
  • THE LARGEST SPENDING CUT IN AMERICAN HISTORY.  The agreement will immediately cut $38.5 billion in federal spending – the largest spending cut in American history in terms of dollars – just months after President Obama asked Congress for a spending “freeze” that would mean zero cuts.
  • HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS IN SPENDING CUTS OVER THE NEXT DECADE.  The agreement will cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the federal budget over the next decade – “real money,” as the Wall Street Journal editorial board recently noted.
  • OFFICIALLY ENDS THE “STIMULUS” SPENDING BINGE.  The agreement begins to reverse the “stimulus” spending binge that began in 2009 – signaling the official end of a period of unprecedented government intervention that former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and other economists say hurt job creation in America by crowding out private investment.
  • SETS STAGE FOR TRILLIONS MORE IN SPENDING CUTS.  Clears the way for congressional action on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget – The Path to Prosperity – which cuts trillions in spending and offers a long-term blueprint for American job creation.
  • GUARANTEES SENATE VOTE ON REPEAL OF OBAMACARE.  The agreement reached with Senate Democrats guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would repeal President Obama’s government takeover of health care in its entirety.  The House passed such legislation in January as part of the Pledge to America.
  • NEW TOOLS IN THE FIGHT TO REPEAL OBAMACARE.  The agreement will generate new tools for the fight to repeal Obamacare by requiring numerous studies that will force the Obama Administration to reveal the true impact of the law’s mandates, including a study of how individuals and families will see increased premiums as a result of certain Obamacare mandates; a full audit of all the waivers that the Obama Administration has given to firms and organizations – including unions - who can't meet the new annual coverage limits; a full audit of what's happening with the comparative effectiveness research funding that was in Obamacare and the president’s failed “stimulus” spending bill; and a report on all of the contractors who have been hired to implement the law and the costs to taxpayers of such contracts.   
  • DENIES ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO THE IRS.  The Obama administration has sought increased federal funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – money that could be used to hire additional agents to enforce the administration’s agenda on a variety of issues.  This increased funding is denied in the agreement.
  • GUARANTEES SENATE VOTE & DEBATE ON DE-FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD.  The agreement with Senate Democrats guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • BANS TAXPAYER FUNDING OF ABORTION IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.  The agreement includes a complete ban on local and federal funding of abortion in the District of Columbia, applying the pro-life principles of the Hyde Amendment (“D.C. Hyde”).
  • MANDATORY AUDITS OF THE NEW JOB-CRUSHING BUREAUCRACY SET UP UNDER DODD-FRANK.  The agreement subjects the so-called Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the job-destroying Dodd-Frank law to yearly audits by both the private sector and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to monitor its impact on the economy, including its impact on jobs, by examining whether sound cost-benefit analyses are being used with rulemakings.

PRESS RELEASE from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
April 8, 2011

McConnell Welcomes Historic Spending Reductions

“Let me thank my friend the Majority Leader and Speaker Boehner for their outstanding work during this difficult negotiation. You know, Mr. President, we had an opportunity tonight to decide whether we wanted to repeat history, or make history. Had we chosen to repeat history, we would have allowed a government shutdown. Instead we decided to make history by implementing in the middle of this fiscal year as the Majority Leader has indicated substantial reductions in spending.

Now, these reductions, Mr. President, are in the billions. Once we get through this process by the end of next week, we will move on to a much larger discussion about how we save trillions, by enacting hopefully on a bipartisan basis a budget that genuinely begins to get on top of this problem. And the problem as we all know is $14 trillion in debt, and over $53 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The President has asked us to raise the debt ceiling. And Senate Republicans and House Republicans and I hope many Democrats as well are going to say, Mr. President, in order to raise the debt ceiling, we need to do something significant about the debt. My definition of significant is that the markets view it as significant, the American people view it as significant and foreign countries view it as significant.

So for tonight, again, I congratulate the Majority Leader and the Speaker. This is an important first step, but just the beginning of what we need to do to get our house, our fiscal house, in order.

Transcript from the White House


11:04 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Behind me, through the window, you can see the Washington Monument, visited each year by hundreds of thousands from around the world.  The people who travel here come to learn about our history and to be inspired by the example of our democracy -- a place where citizens of different backgrounds and beliefs can still come together as one nation.

Tomorrow, 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.

In the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down, leaders in both parties reached an agreement that will allow our small businesses to get the loans they need, our families to get the mortgages they applied for, and hundreds of thousands of Americans to show up at work and take home their paychecks on time, including our brave men and women in uniform.

This agreement between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.  Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them.  And I certainly did that.

Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful. Programs people rely on will be cut back.  Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed.  And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.

But beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs -- investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research.  We protected the investments we need to win the future.

At the same time, we also 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.  These are important issues that deserve discussion, just not during a debate about our budget.

I want to think Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid for their leadership and their dedication during this process.  A few months ago, I was able to sign a tax cut for American families because both parties worked through their differences and found common ground.  Now the same cooperation will make possible the biggest annual spending cut in history, and it’s my sincere hope that we can continue to come together as we face the many difficult challenges that lie ahead, from creating jobs and growing our economy to educating our children and reducing our deficit.  That's what the American people expect us to do.  That's why they sent us here.

A few days ago, I received a letter from a mother in Longmont, Colorado.  Over the year, her son’s eighth grade class saved up money and worked on projects so that next week they could take a class trip to Washington, D.C.  They even have an appointment to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The mother wrote that for the last few days the kids in her son’s class had been worried and upset that they might have to cancel their trip because of a shutdown.  She asked those of us in Washington to get past our petty grievances and make things right.  And she said, “Remember, the future of this country is not for us.  It’s for our children.”

Today we acted on behalf of our children’s future.  And next week, when 50 eighth graders from Colorado arrive in our nation’s capital, I hope they get a chance to look up at the Washington Monument and feel the sense of pride and possibility that defines America -- a land of many that has always found a way to move forward as one.

Thank you.

More Reactions...
April 8, 2011

RNC Chairman Priebus Statement On The Latest Budget Agreement
WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus released the following statement tonight:
“I would like to thank Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership for pushing for the largest spending cuts that make a difference but do not negatively impact American families and U.S. service members. Yet President Obama and Congressional Democrats still don’t get it - ending Washington’s addiction to spending is vital for economic certainty and creating jobs. It is truly remarkable that this President and his allies in Congress continue to stand in the way of even the most modest Republican spending reductions at a time when the country is borrowing nearly 40 cents of every dollar that it spends.  Today’s achievement was the first step in what will be a long discussion on how to get our fiscal house in order and set a course for long-term job growth. Republicans are committed to solving our nation’s debt crisis and challenging President Obama’s unsustainable status quo.”

April 9, 2011

No Labels Statement on Bipartisan Deal to Avert Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — No Labels Co-Founder Mark McKinnon and Founding Leader David Walker issued the following statement today regarding the bipartisan agreement on the fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill.

“On behalf of our more than 80,000 citizen leaders, No Labels applauds President Obama and congressional leadership for working across the aisle to reach a bipartisan solution to fund the federal government for the remainder of the year. Despite the many weeks it took to reach consensus, our nation’s leaders deserve credit for finally choosing progress over politics. Avoiding a government shutdown was the right thing to do for our economy and for the American people,” said No Labels Co-Founder Mark McKinnon. “Since its beginning, No Labels has been out in front on the need for ‘everyone at the table, everything on the table’ to solve our country’s financial challenges. Tens of thousands of our members have contacted Congress, urging them to change the tone of these contentious debates and find a way to work together to address this issue.”

“While last night’s milestone is a good first step, the real test will be whether both sides can continue to work together to find real solutions to the serious fiscal challenges facing our nation. We look forward to working with our leaders in Congress to support any bipartisan effort that helps us achieve this end goal,” added David Walker, No Labels' Founding Leader and former U.S. Comptroller General.


Log Cabin Republicans Praise Speaker Boehner's Leadership as House Republicans Secure Historic Spending Cuts

(Washington, DC) - Log Cabin Republicans praise Speaker John Boehner for passage of the bipartisan agreement to cut nearly $39 billion from the federal budget while avoiding a government shutdown.
"Speaker Boehner showed commendable leadership in crafting this agreement, which provides for the largest spending cut in American history and sets the stage for future success in saving not billions, but trillions through Congressman Ryan's long-term budget proposal," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director.  "Log Cabin Republicans are particularly pleased that House Republicans ultimately chose to prioritize spending cuts which will lead to job creation over divisive social issue policy riders.  This agreement shows the American people that the Republicans they sent to Washington did what they said they would do - fought to get the economy back on track and to combat the culture of out of control spending in Washington. However, this is only the first battle in a long campaign, and Log Cabin Republicans call for conservatives to remain focused on the economy to avoid losing hard-earned ground."

# # #

FRC Action Will Press Forward Until Congress Stops Planned Parenthood's Money Grab
April 09, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House of Representatives cleared a "bridge" appropriations measure early this morning that is expected to give negotiators time to write legislation that would fund the government through Sept. 30, after announcing an agreement on the larger package. The package bans taxpayer funding of abortion in the District of Columbia but continues to provide taxpayer subsidies to abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"We are pleased that negotiators have agreed to reinstate the long-standing law against taxpayer funding of abortion in the District of Columbia, but abortion giant Planned Parenthood will continue to receive hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars in spite of its record of abusing innocent young victims and willingly covering up the horrors of sex trafficking.

"Contrary to assertions made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats, no family planning funds were ever threatened during this most recent budget debate. The proposed language simply says that if you provide abortions you can't get federal monies. In troubled economic times, taxpayers should not be subsidizing organizations that perform abortions. The money would much better serve recipients who do not have abortion as their central 'product.'

"We will continue to press Congress to adopt a 2012 budget that reflects the beliefs of most Americans who may disagree over abortion but broadly agree that they do not want their hard earned money going to abortion organizations.

"Our elected leaders should not be at a loss of words when it comes to protecting mothers and their unborn children from the horrific practice of abortion. We urge Congressional leaders to move forward with hearings to further expose and stop taxpayer funding of an organization that has been complicit in statutory rape cases, mishandled funds, and accepted donations for abortions with offensive racial overtones."