US Congress Nears Budget Deal to Avert Possible Shutdown

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 3:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives say they have reached agreement on funding the federal government that will avert a possible shutdown of most government operations.

Early Friday afternoon, the House voted 296 to 121 in favor of a bill to fund the government until October 2012.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Friday morning that the bill was put together in collaboration with lawmakers from both major parties.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leader of the minority Democrats in the House, accused Republicans of political posturing and delaying tactics that caused the last-minute negotiations on such important legislation.

The Senate is expected to vote later Friday or early Saturday, in time to avert a partial government shutdown.

A shutdown would have forced government agencies to halt non-essential operations, and put tens of thousands federal employees on unpaid furlough.

Lawmakers still have not agreed on whether to extend payroll tax cuts for American workers. What originally was a temporary tax reduction will expire at the end of this month. President Barack Obama has pressed Congress to extend the cuts; otherwise, he says, 160 million Americans will face a tax increase in the New Year, at a time when they can least afford it.