WASHINGTON – Perilously close to a government shutdown, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached a historic agreement late Friday night to cut about $38 billion in spending and avert the first federal closure in 15 years.
Obama hailed the deal as "the biggest annual spending cut in history." House Speaker John Boehner said that over the next decade it would cut government spending by $500 billion — and won an ovation from his rank and file, tea party adherents among them.
"This is historic, what we've done," agreed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the third man involved in negotiations that ratified a new era of divided government.
They announced the agreement less than an hour before government funding was due to run out, instantly turning hundreds of thousands of furlough notices for federal workers into historical relics.
The shutdown would have closed national parks, tax-season help lines and other popular services, though the military would have stayed on duty and other essential efforts such as air traffic control would have continued in effect.