UPDATE: Here is Rep. Hultgren's statement on the budget deal struck Friday night to avoid a government shutdown:
"I am pleased that Congress was able to work together to fully fund government operations through the end of this fiscal year. Not only will this tentative agreement ensure that the men and women in our armed forces receive a pay check, but it will also keep national parks and museums open and maintain other government services.
"The bill also cuts $38.5 billion in federal spending for the remainder of the year, which is the largest spending cut in American history, and cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from the federal budget over the next decade. These cuts are critical, as they represent the first step to taking our nation off the path to national bankruptcy."
As of early Friday afternoon, no budget deal had been struck to prevent the impending shutdown of much the federal government. But Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Wheaton, said he is hopeful one can be worked out by the midnight deadline.
Hultgren, calling from Washington, D.C., said Republicans and Democrats were still fighting it out Friday afternoon. Though important steps had been taken, he said, the disagreement is a fundamental one over the size and role of government.
Congress failed to pass a federal budget before the end of last year. If no budget deal is in place by midnight tonight, portions of the government will close down, and roughly 800,000 federal workers will be placed on furlough. National parks will close, and many government services will stop.
It would be the first such shutdown since 1996.
Hultgren said no one in Congress wants that to happen, but Republicans are sticking to their guns over the amount of spending reductions they’d like to see.
“It’s a strong philosophical disagreement,” he said. “One party would like to see the size of government grow, the other would like to see it shrink. It’s hard to compromise when you’re moving in different directions.”
On April 7, Hultgren voted for the bill under debate, H.R. 1363, which cuts $12 billion from the federal budget while funding the Department of Defense for the remainder of the year. Should parts of the government shut down tonight, members of the military would continue to serve without pay.
The measure passed the House 247-181, and is currently under debate in the Senate.
Hultgren said the sticking point is “absolutely not” related to Planned Parenthood cuts, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said. Hultgren said Republicans are looking for “across-the-board reductions."
When asked why these debates always come down to the wire, when services and government funding are threatened, Hultgren said that isn’t true.
“I think we just remember these things,” he said. “Many bills have passed well before the deadline. This one should have passed last year.”
Hultgren said he would reserve judgment on any deal until seeing the particulars, and how they may affect his district, which stretches from DuPage County to the Mississippi River and includes Montgomery, Oswego and Yorkville.
“I’m hopeful there will be a deal,” he said. “There’s nothing yet. We’re still discussing and debating.”