Government shutdown averted at the eleventh hour

By David O. Williams
Real AspenApril 9, 2011
Democrats and Republicans reached an 11th-hour deal on the federal budget Friday, trimming more than $38 billion and averting a looming shutdown of the government. Colorado’s senior Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, quickly issued a statement praising both sides but calling for measures to prevent the politicizing of the budget process in the future.

Closer to home, a shutdown could have affected operations in the White River National Forest, closed state parks and furloughed tens of thousands of government workers in Colorado.

Democrats reportedly agreed to deeper spending cuts but got Republicans to drop attempts to curtail environmental regulations by the EPA and slash funding for Planned Parenthood. Here’s Udall’s statement on the deal as well as a budget bill he’d like to see adopted by Congress:

“I congratulate both Democrats and Republicans for coming together and agreeing on a budget compromise. Shutting down the government would’ve affected tens of thousands of Coloradans and their livelihoods were at stake. Military families were worried about receiving their paychecks, farmers would’ve waiting for operating loans to put seed in the ground, and people all over the country would be waiting on their tax refunds. Over 53,000 federal employees in Colorado would be sent home without pay.

“These Coloradans are the reason I introduced a bill today to keep the government funded this year. My bill would also prevent either party from ever using the threat of a government shutdown to push its agenda again. I will continue my efforts to gather support for my bill and bring it to the floor for a vote because using political games to play with people’s lives is unacceptable. The American people elected Congress to lead and it’s time for our country to put aside partisan politics and refocus our efforts toward addressing our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.”

Udall’s bill would change the law to require that funds automatically be appropriated at the previous year’s level if a budget could not be agreed to. Once Congress is able to reach an agreement to fund the government, this automatic funding would stop and be replaced by the enacted bill.

Tonight’s deal includes cutting $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and reaching an agreement on the policy riders. Meanwhile Congress 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.

Colorado’s senior congresswoman, Democrat Diana DeGette, also issued a brief statement.

“Hearing the numerous concerns from those in the First District of Colorado, I am grateful we have averted the crisis of a government shutdown. I look forward to reviewing the details of the final proposal. In the coming weeks, I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will choose to turn their attention to the critical task of getting Americans back to work, rather than advancing an extreme social agenda.”

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