federal budget

Think of the budget plan released Tuesday by President Obama as a magic wand. If he could wave it and make every line come true, how would the U.S. economy look?

Like this:

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund the federal government into October and bring to an end, for now at least, the bitter partisan battles that have led to one government shutdown and threatened to push the U.S. into defaulting on its bills.

Elizabeth Lytle is an administrative program assistant with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago — "a glorified name for a secretary," she says.

If Lytle isn't thrilled with her title, she's even less enamored of her job.

"The morale is just unbelievably low because we're never recognized," Lytle says. "Management doesn't seem to go to bat for us."

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Oklahoma conservation districts are expressing concern over federal fees for basic conservation assistance for farmers and ranchers that are being proposed in the federal budget agreement.

Kim Farber, president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, says the proposal amounts to a step backward in the effort to protect natural resources.

The House is expected to vote Thursday on the bipartisan deal that would set spending levels for the next two years, replace many of the indiscriminate "sequester" budget cuts and, in theory at least, take off the table one of the most partisan of the many partisan issues that have contributed to the gridlock in Washington.

NPR's Tamara Keith tells our Newscast desk that passage is expected but not certain. She adds that:

Sen. Coburn Calls Budget Deal "Patch Work"

Dec 11, 2013
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) greeting President Barack Obama.
Tom Coburn / Facebook

A leading congressional deficit hawk says a bipartisan budget agreement hammered out on Capitol Hill is mostly a patch-work approach that fails to address wasteful spending that is contributing to a ballooning federal debt.

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma says the accord announced by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state likely was the best that could be achieved, but says he can't support it.

The reviews are coming in for the bipartisan budget deal crafted by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and as the Los Angeles Times says, the package seems to have "something for everyone to dislike."

Now that the government has reopened, attention turns to the next phase of the spending fight, a battle that is far from over.

The bill that President Obama signed early Thursday provides only a temporary respite to the partisan tussles that have perennially plagued the budget process. The government stays open through Jan. 15 and the federal borrowing authority is safe until Feb. 7. After that, all bets are off.

Update at 10:18 p.m.: House Approves Bill:

The crisis is over. With about two hours before the country reached the debt ceiling, the House has approved the bill and it is now it's way to the White House. We've posted separately on that development and we are putting this live blog to bed.

Our Original Post Continues:

In the course of any given month, the government collects billions of dollars in taxes, spends billions more, and borrows money to cover the difference between what it collects and what it spends.

If Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling soon, the government won't be able to borrow money to cover the difference anymore and won't be able to pay all of its bills.

(This post was last updated at 11:05 p.m. ET)

With a little more than a day to go before the nation potentially defaults on its debts, there's still no solid plan on the table in Washington.

There was a flurry of activity on Tuesday, but it produced little significant movement.

Most Americans say they aren't directly affected by the shutdown. But some pockets of society, beyond furloughed federal workers and their families, are being severely hit.

We used NPR's social media network to ask about the impact and were deluged by messages from people who are worried and scared, especially veterans and the disabled, and many others who are angry and frustrated.

In seven days, the federal government runs out of money.

While the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution Friday that keeps the government funded through Dec. 15, the measure also defunded President Obama's signature health care law — which means it has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

If a budget resolution doesn't hit President Obama's desk before Oct. 1, that's a big problem: The government will be forced to close its doors.

Just a week before the federal government could shut down if no agreement is reached to fund it past the end of September, it's anyone's guess whether Democrats and Republicans will avoid plunging over this particular cliff.

More certain, however, is that if a shutdown happens over Obamacare and Republicans wind up taking the heat, many GOP fingers of blame will point squarely at Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Texas Republican will likely become the face of the 2013 shutdown, just as Newt Gingrich became the poster boy of two government shutdowns of the mid-1990s.


On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced it would delay the deadline companies with 50 or more full-time employees must comply with the Affordable Care Act until 2015.

U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-OK5) says requirements of the law, also known as Obamacare, are too far-reaching for real, law-abiding small business owners to implement.