A late-night deal avoided a partial government shutdown, the fifth such occasion this year.
Editor's note: This story was updated after its original publication to include late-breaking developments.
Congressional leaders reached a deal late Dec. 15 to avoid a government shutdown pending a final vote Friday. House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on a budget that would fund most agencies for the remainder of fiscal 2012, according to the Washington Post.
Thanks to a "minibus" budget passed in November, the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, Transportation, NASA and other smaller agencies already have funding until the end of fiscal 2012. The deal reached Dec. 15 covers the Defense Department and most of the rest of government, the Post reported.
As hours ticked by this week, the Obama administration began alerting employees to the possibility of a partial government shutdown. The bipartisan divide epitomized 2011, when Democrats and Republicans’ bickering resulted in the passing of a series of short-term spending measures instead of a single one that would fund the government for the entire fiscal year. A standoff on the payroll tax bill to extend a tax cut for wage earners held up debate on the funding bill.
Some agencies had begun preparing employees for the possibilities of a shutdown. The Office of Personnel Management website informed federal employees about shutdown furloughs and what impact they would have on the workforce. The Interior Department had also notified government employees about what consequences a shutdown would have should a shutdown occur.
It was the fifth time this year that Congress had pushed the nation to within hours of a government shutdown.