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11th hour miracle: Congress strikes budget deal with minutes to spare before a shutdown

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WASHINGTON – With literally moments to spare before a shutdown Friday at midnight, the two parties struck a deal to fund the government through September. They agreed to cut spending $39 billion from 2010 levels and separately vote on controversial policy riders blocking funding for Planned Parenthood.

Congress also scrambled late Friday night to pass a short-term stopgap measure cutting the first $2 billion to buy time and keep the government open while the budget would be constructed. Shortly before midnight, the Senate approved the continuing resolution, and the House passed it soon after midnight.

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In a joint statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hailed the deal as an “historic” achievement.

“We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President,” the two said.

Although a shutdown technically occurred at midnight, the stopgap bill included language to retroactively cover any consequences that may have transpired from the short lapse in funding.

President Barack Obama also praised the accord as a monumental breakthrough, announcing shortly before midnight that come Saturday morning, “the entire federal government will be open for business — and that’s because today Americans of different beliefs came together again.”

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“In the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down, leaders in both parties reached an agreement that will allow our small businesses to get the loans they need, our families to get the mortgages they applied for, and hundreds of thousands of Americans to show up at work and take home their paychecks on time, including our brave men and women in uniform,” Obama said.

The deal reflected a victory for Republicans in extracting a level of spending cuts that once seemed out of the question. For Democrats, it was a relief in that they averted the inclusion of conservative ideological provisions that would have been embarrassing to defend to their base.

Leaders of both sides get to claim victory, but there are provisions in the accord to anger liberals and conservatives. For instance, it includes a mandatory audit of health care reform that could prove damaging to Democrats. Tea party conservatives are likely to be peeved that it falls below the GOP’s promise of $100 billion in spending cuts.

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Boris Johnson said he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than delay Brexit — but just asked to extend deadline

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to write to Brussels seeking a Brexit deadline extension after MPs voted Saturday to demand he delay Britain's October 31 departure date.

In a phonecall with European Council President Donald Tusk after the vote, Johnson said he would send the letter mandated by MPs to seek more time, a EU source told AFP.

"The PM confirmed that the letter would be sent to Tusk today," the source said.

"Tusk will on that basis start consulting EU leaders on how to react. This may take a few days," he added.

Tusk said on Twitter that he was "waiting for the letter".

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Trump is ‘weakened on virtually every front’ as impeachment intensifies: Washington Post analysis

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President Donald Trump is in a "fragile state" and telegraphing weakness, according to a new analysis by Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker.

"President Trump, whose paramount concern long has been showing strength, has entered the most challenging stretch of his term, weakened on virtually every front and in danger of being forced from office as the impeachment inquiry intensifies," he wrote.

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2020 Election

Rep AOC helped Bernie Sanders turn out ‘the largest crowd drawn by any candidate’: report

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) helped Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) turn out a huge crowd at a campaign rally in New York City.

Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, officially endorsed the Vermont senator at the event.

"Bernie Sanders has a crowd of 25,872 this afternoon at his Queens rally, according to the security company handling the event, Contemporary Services Corp. That would make this event, his first since his heart attack 18 days ago, the largest crowd drawn by any candidate," Buzzfeed News correspondent Ruby Cramer reported.

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