December 11th, 2013
09:46 AM ET

Budget Deal Aims to Avert Another Shutdown

Congressional negotiators reached a bipartisan budget compromise on Tuesday that would prevent another government shutdown, if approved by the House and Senate, CNN's Dana Bash reports.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Tuesday the deal with his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray, would set spending levels, reduce the deficit, and relieve some of the arbitrary, forced spending cuts - known as sequestration.

The pair found common ground just days before a Friday deadline to settle the matter.

"We have broken through the partisanship and the gridlock," Murray said.

Ryan said the deal was "a clear improvement" over the status quo.

"This agreement makes sure that we don't have a government shutdown scenario in January. It makes sure we don't have another government shutdown scenario in October. It makes sure that we don't lurch from crisis to crisis," the Wisconsin Republican said.

"This deal doesn't solve all of our problems," Murray said, noting the compromise both sides made with government spending authority expiring in mid-January.

The proposal will raise 2014 spending for the full fiscal year to $1.012 trillion.

It would save $85 billion while eliminating $63 billion in forced spending cuts to the military and other programs through sequestration to achieve total deficit reduction of $23 billion, budget leaders said.

Specifically, it rolls back sequestration cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments, and defense jobs for the next two years, Murray said.

She wanted the negotiations to close corporate tax loopholes and Republicans had hoped for a chance to make changes to entitlements.

Negotiators also did not include a proposal to extend unemployment benefits, which Democrats were pushing for this week.

President Barack Obama called the development a good first step.

"This agreement doesn't include everything I'd like - and I know many Republicans feel the same way. That's the nature of compromise. But it's a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done," Obama said in a statement.

Both the House and Senate must still weigh in, but opponents in both parties immediately raised concerns about the agreement, which, if passed by Congress, would mark a significant departure from repeated budget showdowns in recent years.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said the proposal "continues Washington's irresponsible budgeting decisions" by spending too much.

"In the short run, this budget also cancels earlier spending reductions, instead of making some tough decisions about how to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges caused by runaway Washington spending," Rubio said in a statement.

Ryan and Murray have spent the past two months working on an agreement that would set government spending levels and replace the next round of deep automatic cuts - known as sequester.

Negotiators were tasked with reaching a deal following October's budget drama in Washington, when inaction by Congress on spending for the current fiscal year led to a 16-day federal shutdown.

The temporary federal spending agreement that ended the shutdown this fall expires in mid January.

With the Republican-led House leaving town on Friday for the holidays, negotiators worked for a deal this week to give both houses of Congress their best shot at quickly weighing the new proposal.

Ryan said they would like to get it before the House leaves town at the end of the work week, and Murray indicated the Senate wanted to consider it before it, too, recessed for the holidays next week.

"I think conservatives should vote for it," Ryan said of Republicans, especially tea party members in the House, who have focused most aggressively on spending cuts and who have tangled most fiercely with Obama and Democrats.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she looks forward to discussing the deal with the Democratic caucus.

"Any budget agreement must ensure that we create jobs, grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and reduce the deficit in a balanced and responsible way," she said in a statement.

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November 20th, 2013
10:23 AM ET

Florida Rep. Trey Radel Being Arraigned Today on Drug Charges

Rep. Trey Radel is due in Washington superior court Wednesday, charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession after an October 29 arrest, according to court documents.

The 37 year-old Florida Republican is serving his first term in Congress after winning office last November.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said Tuesday that the charges come with a maximum 180 day imprisonment and/or $1,000 fine, reports CNN's Athena Jones.

“I'm profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida," Radel said in a statement released by his office. "I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them.”

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October 9th, 2013
06:38 AM ET

Obama Says He'd Talk On GOP's Terms – If They Raise Debt Ceiling, Fund Government

President Barack Obama is ready to talk even on Republicans' terms, he insisted Tuesday, so long as Congress acts first to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling – even for a short period, CNN's Brianna Keilar reports.

At a news conference, Obama indicated Republicans could essentially set the agenda for budget negotiations, but only if Congress agrees first to a short-term spending plan to fund the government and to raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid a possible first-ever U.S. default next week.

"I will talk about anything," the president said.


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October 4th, 2013
07:31 AM ET

GOP Legislator: Boehner Won't Let Government Default On Its Debt

The federal government may not be hit with a double whammy on top of the ongoing shutdown, as House Speaker John Boehner told a group of fellow GOP legislators that he won't let the nation default on its debt, according to a House Republican. CNN's Brianna Keilar reports.

Boehner said that he'd set aside the "Hastert Rule" – that Republicans would only bring measures up for a vote if they are backed by a majority of their caucus – and rely on Democrats to pass a measure to raise the nation's debt limit, said the House member. This legislator attended a meeting Wednesday involving Boehner, but requested anonymity because that gathering was private.

Congressional Republicans remain divided on how to structure legislation to raise the government's borrowing level. And an aide to the House speaker downplayed the development, saying, "Boehner has always said the United States will not default on its debt, so that's not news."


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