Government Shutdown Avoided At Last Minute

President Obama tonight is celebrating a “historic” agreement with Congressional leaders that will keep the federal government in business while lawmakers and the White House continue to a larger philosophical debate over the nation’s debt.

The announcement avoids what would have been the first government shutdown in 15 years.

Under the agreement announced with about a hour to go before the government’s operations ground to a halt, $38.5 billion will be sliced from the federal government’s spending.

Though Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with Speaker John Boehner said the agreement kept the government operating, lawmakers planned to approve a short-term a continuing resolution to keep money flowing through Monday until a long-term measure could be voted on.

The agreement came after The New York Times reported noted conservatives, including possible presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, applied pressure to Boehner over avoiding a shutdown.

The agreement also reportedly resolved issues over funding for Planned Parenthood, which GOP lawmakers had pushed hard for over the last several days, Democrats had charged.

Both Reid and Boehner issued a joint statement shortly after 11 p.m.:

“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. We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders. In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.”

The full remarks from Obama are after the jump: More >

Hochul Knocks Corwin For A ‘Stunning Lack Of Honesty’

Kathy Hochul is out with a new ad slamming her Republican opponent Jane Corwin for what she says is a “stunning lack of honesty” in the race for the 26th Congressional District.

Hochul, the Democratic Erie County clerk, used the ad to respond to this spot in support of Corwin that attacks her opponent over taxes.

The 30-second ad also takes Corwin to task for stating her support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget cuts, but then voting against some of the budget bills.

Jane Corwin applauded the Cuomo budget cuts then she played politics and voted against almost every cut. No wonder Jane Corwin was named an enemy of reform in Albany.

Extras

There’s optimism in the House that a shutdown will be averted….Or, maybe not.

Sen. Max Baucus predicted there would be a last-minute deal just before midnight, but then cautioned: “I’ve been wrong before.”

There’s a lot of public finger pointing going on.

VP Joe Biden blamed the House GOP freshmen for the hold up.

The House GOP women didn’t want to talk about abortion.

Rep. Louise Slaughter believes “every one” of her staffers is essential and so won’t furlough anyone if there’s a shutdown. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will close her nine state offices.

Oprah reportedly won’t endorse President Obama in 2012.

Hillary Clinton, style icon (in her youth, that is)?

Court cuts continue.

Hydrofracking is creating big business for lobbyists.

Mayor Bloomberg filed a formal request for NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Dennis Walcott’s waiver.

Snooki’s Law!.

Bloomberg called Cathie Black “phenomenally competent.”

Gabe Pressman takes Bloomberg to task.

The mayor announced the latest winners of the NYC Next Idea contest.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown lost his longest-tenured aide who is the focus of a federal probe.

More MTA fare hikes could be in the offing.

Jimmer is too famous to go to class.

Pale Male is a player.

Congrats to Azi, Reid and Aram.

Koch vs. Skelos, Round II

Ed Koch fired back at Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for his suggestion yesterday that the former NYC mayor’s push for redistricting reform is motivated by politics and not a desire to create a truly independent and nonpartisan system.

Skelos made his comments during an interview with YNN Buffalo while he was in the Queen City.

“The very fact that Senator Skelos is only capable of seeing this through a partisan lens is emblematic of everything wrong with Albany,” Koch said

“I understand that he feels like the best way to ensure his guaranteed control of the Senate would come from drawing politically advantageous districts for his members. But that’s the underlying problem with our state – too many public servants who are far more interested in serving themselves than the people they represent.”

“It’s a dishonorable act for a Democrat or a Republican to go back on his or her word. That’s what this is about, and that’s why New York Uprising will be contacting voters in Democratic and Republican districts, to let them know if their Senator or Assemblymember is reneging.”

“I’m a Democrat, but since 1965, I have crossed party lines when I thought it was in the best interest of New York.”

Koch is what I would describe as a conservative Democrat, particularly when it comes to anything to do with Israel – a subject on which he is downright Hawkish.

He endorsed and worked for George W. Bush in 2004, but then endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 after first backing Hillary Clinton, citing a fear of then GOP VP contender, Sarah Palin, whom he called “scary.”

The former mayor is also a longtime supporter of Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent Mayor Bloomberg. Other Republicans he has backed include: Former Gov. George Pataki, Rep. Pete King, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (the first time, he then had a change of heart in 1996 and has penned a book called “Giuliani: Nasty Man”) and former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato.

Gillibrand To Return Her Paycheck

Several members of Congress have declared that they want to give up their paychecks during a government shutdown – to show solidarity with the federal workers and troops who won’t be receiving pay. Now, Senator Gillibrand has added her name to the list.

“If hardworking Americans are going to go without a paycheck, so should members of Congress. I will return my paycheck to the U.S. Treasury during any shut down,” said Senator Gillibrand in a press release.

The release also takes a shot at House Republicans for not voting on a bill that would prevent lawmakers from drawing a salary during a shut down.

House Republicans suggest the reason they didn’t take up the bill is because their are constitutional questions about whether salary for Congress members can be limited in any way.

Black Suggests Sexism At Play In Ouster

In her first extended interview since she was abruptly shown the door by Mayor Bloomberg after just 95 days on the job yesterday morning, former NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black insisted – again – that she’s “fine” with the decision, but also suggested the fact that she’s a woman might have contributed to her failure.

FORTUNE’s Pattie Sellers reports:

Even as she recognized her inadequacies, Black says she has wondered: “If I were a guy, would I have had the pounding that I did?

“And the worst pictures!” she says, obviously referring to a horrid closeup shot of her on a February cover of New York Magazine.

(Not to mention this morning’s DN cover. Yikes).

Sellers suggested Black might be a victim of the “glass cliff,” in which men try to put them in positions “beyong their level of competence” in hopes of demonstrating how open-minded and committed to diversity they are – only to see those women fail in a highly public way.

“There may be some truth in that,” Black says, all but admitting that for a manager like her, with no professional experience in education, heading America’s largest public school system was above her capabilities. “It was like having to learn Russian in a weekend – and then give speeches in Russian and speak Russian in budget committee and City Council meetings.”

Black, 66, also called herself a “warrior,” and said she has “different options to consider” for her next career move (the Post’s Keith J. Kelly noted there are two top media spots available at the moment), but said she’s “not in a rush” to make any moves.

Slaughter Likens Republicans To Nazis (Updated)

Rep. Louise Slaughter, who has never been one for mincing words, particularly when it comes to women’s issues, likened Republican efforts to limit access to abortion in the budget battle to “an old German Nazi move,” and accused her colleagues across the aisle of wanting to “kill women.”

The Rochester-area Democrat’s comments came during a women’s health rally held on the mall yesterday. Slaughter takes the stage at roughly the 45-minute mark on this CSPAN video. (H/T to The American Pundit for spotting this one first).

“I went through this as co-chair of the Arts Caucus,” the congresswoman said. “In ’94 people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. Now they’re here to kill women.”

“…There is nothing in any of their bills that has anything to do about the health of the woman. You are allowed to have an abortion if you have been raped or it’s a matter of incest. However you have to keep a receipt.”

“Did you know that? It’s sort of like an old German Nazi movie – show me your papers. What happens is you have to prove if you have been raped, of if it has been incest, you have to prove with police documents or whatever else you’ve got to prove to the IRS that it was all right to have your abortion covered. And in many cases you have to be able to prove that you paid for it yourself.”

“This is one of the biggest setbacks I’ve ever seen. Do they do that with vasectomies?”

UPDATE: A Slaughter aide informed me the congresswoman said “movie” and not “move,” so I have made that change, although I found it difficult to hear. In addition, the rally yesterday was not about the looming government shutdown, but rather a stand-alone bill that was scheduled to receive a hearing in the Rules Committee (on which Slaughter sits), but was considered “so extreme” that the hearing was canceled.

Where Will Chris Gibson Shower?

One more casualty of a federal government shutdown if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and the president can’t get a budget deal by midnight: The congressional gym.

And that’s bad news for the roughly one-fifth of the House freshman class who live in their offices while in Washington and rely on the gym’s showers to clean up.

That list includes Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-20), who considers his time in D.C. a “deployment,” and eschews paying rent on an apartment or a house while he’s in the nation’s capital – a place he tries to spend as little time as possible in favor of being back in the district with his family and constituents.

I left a message with Gibson’s spokeswoman and haven’t heard back yet. But I owe a H/T for this one to the Jackson Citizen Patriot, which noted that one of its House members, Tim Walberg, (a Michigan Republican), is another one of the so-called “Capitol campers.”

Walberg sent an email to the paper saying: “My hygienic arrangements are unimportant compared to the real issues and sacrifices at stake.” He also hewed closely to his party’s message, saying it will be the fault of the Senate Democrats and the president if a shutdown does occur.

The practice of camping out in the office has drawn some criticism from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which considers the practice inappropriate and might constitute a violation of the congressional rules.

IT Shakeup

A reader forwarded a memo sent this morning by state Operations Director Howard Glaser to all state agency chief information officers, informing then of a new hire at the Office for Technology and warning of a “significant transformation” of all IT services coming down the pike.

“Effective immediately,” Glaser said, Daniel C. Chan will serve as the acting CIO and acting director of OFT. Chan has been the CIO at the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance since June 2007.

Chan is replacing Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, a Spitzer administration holdover who informed OFT staffers last month that she would be leaving her post, effective March 31, to “return to the private sector.”

Glaser’s memo continues:

“At the direction of the Executive Chamber, the Division of the Budget engaged Deloitte LLP to benchmark New York’s IT operations against public and private sector best practices.”

“The initial results indicate a need for significant transformation, as well as a need to address our IT infrastructure services. Dan will be working closely with DOB’s Enterprise Services team and Deloitte to develop a series of roadmaps to help guide the State in addressing these urgent needs.”

“Solving these problems will require the active participation of CIO/OFT staff and State agency CIOs and their staff. Dan and members of the DOB Enterprise Services team will be engaging with you soon in this effort.”

“I ask that you give your full cooperation to bring about the necessary IT changes to support more efficient operations across the State enterprise.”

NYSUT Sings Kerry Kennedy’s Praises

The state teachers union produced an extremely laudatory video to mark the presentation of its top honor – the Albert Shanker Award – to human rights activist Kerry Kennedy.

According to NYSUT’s Website, Kennedy urged union delegates to “speak truth to power” (also the name of her book) by standing up for children and “decried the demonization of teachers.”

“NYSUT’s leadership, members, actions and, most importantly, courage demonstrate a deep and abiding commitment to the protection of human rights and the empowerment of young people to create change,” Kennedy said.

NYSUT insisted politics played no role in its decision to honor Kennedy, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the teachers have been at war with her ex-husband, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and were one of the few groups to actually advertise against him during the budget battle (not that it did them much good in the end).

Also, NYSUT’s ads were pretty tame in comparison to past budget season campaigns. They steered clear of attacking the governor for his education cuts (protestors made sure that message got across when they demonstrated in person at the Capitol), and focused instead on calling for him to extend the millionaire’s tax.