…and the government stays open after all

In a dramatic finish, House and Senate negotiators announced a deal to keep the federal government open late Friday night, about an hour before funding expired.

The bill cuts nearly $40 billion in spending from the next six months of the current fiscal year and includes provisions Democrats find distasteful, such as restrictions on abortion in the District of Columbia.

Still, Republicans had initially called for $61 billion in cuts and some tea party activists have called for a primary challenger to House Speaker John Boehner for not cutting spending dramatically enough.

After brief, congratulatory speeches by Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate quickly passed a so-called “bridge” funding measure that provides the government with funding through next Thursday in order to put the complicated deal crafted between the House, Senate and President into legislative language.

DFL Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken supported the measure.

The House quickly followed and passed the bill 348-70, although Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and DFL Rep. Keith Ellison voted against it.

Although the House did not vote on the funding bill until after midnight – when the government’s funding technically ran out – the White House Office of Management and Budget sent out a memo telling federal agencies to continue normal operations.

In a statement released immediately after the vote, Bachmann said, “The deal that was reached tonight is a disappointment for me and for millions of Americans who expected $100 billion in cuts, who wanted to make sure their tax dollars stopped flowing to the nation’s largest abortion provider, and who wanted us to defund ObamaCare.”

Earlier Friday, Bachmann had pulled back from her suggestion that Republicans fight hard to win deep spending cuts on this bill, suggesting instead that she preferred a fight over next year’s budget and a concerted effort to repeal the funding measures undergirding the health care overhaul.

To explain why he joined Bachmann in opposing the funding bill, Ellison wrote on Twitter, “I voted no, jobs not cuts.” Ellison has long called for higher taxes on the wealthy and greater spending on infrastructure and social safety net as an alternative to spending cuts with no offsetting tax increases.

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