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VOL. 46 | NO. 5 | Friday, February 4, 2022

Democratic, GOP bargainers reach budget deal, 4 months late

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats and Republicans finally agreed on a framework for overall defense and domestic spending for this year, top lawmakers said Wednesday, opening the door to work on bills detailing how the government will spend well above $1 trillion on everything from Army tanks to veterans hospitals.

House and Senate bargainers did not reveal details of their accord. But they've been trying to reach a compromise on how big an increase to give defense programs, which were around $672 billion last year, and domestic programs, which were $627 billion.

The agreement is significant because until now, the two parties have been stalemated over spending for a federal fiscal year that began Oct. 1, leaving the government functioning at last year's levels. The announcement suggests the two sides are on their way to writing bills that will let them build new programs into agency budgets.

Since October, the government has been financed by a series of temporary bills that have continued spending decisions made more than a year ago. Lawmakers say they are aiming to complete the 12 new bills by March 11, when the latest stopgap measure expires.

Each time a short-term bill has expired there's been a theoretical chance that a dispute would produce gridlock and a government shutdown. But closing national parks, reducing services for people receiving federal benefits and other headline-grabbing consequences of a shutdown have seemed highly unlikely because it would be in neither party's political interest this election year.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said budget writers will now work "with great intensity" to finish the bills by March 11.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations panel, told reporters there had been a bipartisan breakthrough on an overall framework but added, "We have a lot of work to go."

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