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Federal shutdown avoided, 2012 budget fight looms

WASHINGTON — A last-minute budget deal forged amid bluster and tough bargaining averted an embarrassing federal shutdown, cut billions in spending and provided the first major test of the divided government that voters ushered in five months ago.

Working late into Friday night, congressional and White House negotiators finally agreed on a plan to pay for government operations through the end of September while trimming $38.5 billion in spending.

Lawmakers then approved a measure to keep the government running through next Friday while the details of the new spending plan are written into legislation.

Obama signed the short-term measure without fanfare Saturday. Congressional approval of the actual deal is expected in the middle of next week.

"Americans of different beliefs came together again," President Barack Obama said from the White House Blue Room, a setting chosen to offer a clear view of the Washington Monument over his right shoulder.


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