A proposed congressional budget agreement would avoid a government shutdown in January and set spending for defense and domestic programs. It would:
—Establish overall non-war-related discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion for fiscal 2015. Discretionary spending is the money approved by Congress each year for agency operations. The House budget level had been $967 billion and the Senate $1.058 trillion for the year that runs through next Sept. 30. Fiscal 2013 discretionary spending was $986 billion.
—Ease the across-the-board "sequester" spending cuts by $63 billion over two years, split between defense and domestic programs. In the current fiscal year, defense would be set at a base budget of $520.5 billion and domestic programs at $491.8 billion.
—Increase airline security fees from $5 to $11.20 for a typical round-trip ticket starting July 1, 2014. That would raise $13 billion over 10 years. Current fees are $2.50 per leg with a maximum fee of $10 for a round-trip with connecting flights or $5 for a nonstop round-trip fare.
—Reduce retirement benefits for working-age military retirees. The cost-of-living adjustment would be modified equal to inflation minus 1 percent. The changes would be phased in, with no change in the current year, a 0.25 percent reduction in December 2014 and a 0.5 percent decrease in December 2015. The change would not apply to retirees who left the service because of disability or injury. It would apply to retirees under the age of 62. The change would save $6 billion.
—Increase by 1.3 percentage points the pension contributions paid by federal civilian workers hired after Jan. 1, 2014. Raise $6 billion.
—Restrict access to Social Security death records to prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns. Save $269 million.
—Raise premiums paid by corporations to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. to guarantee pension benefits. Raise $8 billion.
—Eliminate a requirement that the Maritime Administration reimburse other federal agencies for additional costs associated with shipping food aid on U.S. ships. Saves $731 million.
—Cancel $1.6 billion in unobligated balances in Justice and Treasury Department funds that seize assets from criminals.
—Cap the maximum government payment for contract employees at $487,000, indexed to inflation. Agencies could make exceptions for scientists, engineers and other specialists.
—Give the Treasury Department greater access to prison data to prevent prisoners from claiming improper payments. Saves. $80 million.
—Approve a U.S.-Mexico agreement on oil and gas exploration in waters outside their exclusive economic zones.
—Permanently extend a requirement that states receiving mineral lease payments contribute to the federal government's administrative costs. Saves $415 million.
—Extend Bureau of Customs and Border Protection user fees. Raises $7 billion.
BOSTON (AP) — Lawmakers and strategists from the Republican Party's establishment are lashing out at tea partiers and congressional conservatives whose unflinching demands triggered the 16-day partial government shutdown and sent the GOP's popularity plunging to record lows.
The open criticism is a stark reversal from just three years ago when the GOP embraced new energy from the insurgent group to fuel a return to power in the House.
For a party in an extended identity crisis, the intensifying clash between those in its mainstream and those on its far-right wing muddies its strategy ahead of the 2014 elections.
In the view of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, House Republicans overreached during the budget impasse by believing "we have one-half of one-third of the power in Washington, therefore we have three-fourths of the ability to get things done."
Republicans run the House, but Democrats control the Senate and the White House.
Bush, a potential 2016 presidential candidate who was hosting an education conference in Boston, argued that congressional Republicans represent "the mirror opposite" of the successes of GOP governors.
Other party elders, whose calls for compromise were often overshadowed by the tea party in recent weeks, blamed conservative groups such as Heritage Action, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth. They were influential during the debate, at times promising to help defeat Republicans lawmakers who voted for a compromise with Democrats.
"The right is a multiplicity of various groups, some of which aren't even Republicans, but who think they can control the Republican Party," said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, condemning tactics he referred to as "radicalness."
Republican strategist Mike Murphy chided what he called "the stupid wing of the Republican Party."
"There's tension and there ought to be a questioning of whether we ought to listen to such bad advice," Murphy said when asked about the influence of conservative groups. "We took a huge brand hit. It's self-inflicted. ... I'm glad there are no elections tomorrow."
The government reopened Thursday after Congress voted the night before to end the shutdown and increase the nation's borrowing authority, narrowly averting what business leaders feared would be economic disaster with global implications.
Polls suggest that voters overwhelmingly disapproved of congressional Republicans' handling of the crises.
Gallup found earlier in the month that just 28 percent of Americans reported a favorable opinion of the GOP, its lowest rating since the firm began such polling about the two parties in 1992. Republicans may have fared worse than Democrats during the ordeal, but neither party escaped political damage.
"There are no winners here," President Barack Obama said Thursday.
The compromise package, brokered by a group of moderate Senate Republicans and Democrats, funds the government through Jan. 15. To head off a default, the agreement gives the government the authority to borrow what it needs through Feb. 7. Treasury officials will be able to use bookkeeping maneuvers to delay a potential default for several weeks beyond that date, as they have done in the past.
Lawmakers are now trying to find agreement on how to replace this year's automatic, across-the-board spending cuts with more orderly deficit reduction. But the showdown and subsequent criticism from establishment Republicans seemed to embolden defiant conservatives, who promised more hard-line tactics in the coming months. Some pledged to work harder than ever to defeat Republicans who stand in their way.
"Congress has failed," the Tea Party Express said in a fundraising message.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a tea party favorite, hinted at primary challenges for Republican incumbents "from sea to shining sea" just hours after Congress voted to end the shutdown.
"Friends, do not be discouraged by the shenanigans of D.C.'s permanent political class," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Be energized. We're going to shake things up in 2014."
The Club for Growth on Thursday endorsed a GOP challenger to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who has yet to decide whether he will seek re-election next year. Tea party groups are also supporting the conservative challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky while backing like-minded candidates in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said she hopes her party would move toward "common-sense problem solvers" in the future.
"I don't want to go down this road again," she said in an interview with The Associated Press, noting that she disagreed with congressional conservatives' tactics during the budget fight. "What we take from this experience is that there are obviously common-sense problem solvers, and that's where the party needs to be."
Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is among those pushing for mainstream Republicans to play a more significant role in party politics.
"We don't have leadership in Washington, D.C.," Branstad said of his party, making an exception for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who is helping lead bipartisan budget talks and headlining a Branstad fundraiser next month. "There's a lot of governors around this country who could run this country a lot better than people in Washington."
Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, and news survey specialist Dennis Junius in Washington contributed to this report.
BEIJING (AP) — The International Monetary Fund appealed Thursday to Washington for more stable management of the nation's finances as Asian stock markets rose after U.S. leaders agreed to avoid a default and end a 16-day government shutdown.
With only hours to spare until the $16.7 trillion debt limit was reached, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation late Wednesday night to allow more borrowing and reopen government agencies.
"World heaves sigh of relief as U.S. barely averts debt default," said the Times of India newspaper in a headline.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde welcomed the deal but said the shaky American economy needs more stable long-term finances. The deal only permits the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 and fund the government through Jan. 15.
"It will be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner," Lagarde said in a statement.
The Tokyo stock market, the region's heavyweight, gained as much as 1.1 percent. Markets in China, Hong Kong and South Korea also rebounded from losses.
China and Japan, which each own more than $1 trillion of Treasury securities, appealed earlier to Washington for a quick settlement. There was no indication whether either government had altered its debt holdings.
China's official Xinhua News Agency had accused Washington of jeopardizing other countries' dollar-denominated assets. It called for "building a de-Americanized world," though analysts say global financial markets have few alternatives to the dollar and U.S. government debt for trading and holding currency reserves.
Asian companies and investors had expressed confidence the United States would avoid a default. But had sold Treasurys to avoid possible losses if Washington delayed repayment. Others put off buying stocks that might be exposed to a U.S. downturn.
NEW YORK (AP) — The mother of a Connecticut woman who was shot to death by police after trying to breach a barrier at the White House said her daughter was suffering from post-partum depression.
Authorities said the woman set off a high-speed car chase that put the Capitol on lockdown Thursday and caused a fresh panic the city where a gunman killed 12 people two weeks ago.
Two law enforcement officials identified the driver as 34-year-old Miriam Carey, of Stamford, Conn. She was traveling with a 1-year-old girl who avoided serious injury and was taken into protective custody. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Carey's mother, Idella Carey, told ABC News Thursday night that her daughter began suffering from post-partum depression after giving birth to her daughter, Erica, last August.
"She had post-partum depression after having the baby" she said. She added, "A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed. ... She was hospitalized."
Idella Carey said her daughter had "no history of violence" and she didn't know why she was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. She said she thought Carey was taking Erica to a doctor's appointment in Connecticut.
ABC News reported that Miriam Carey was a dental hygienist. Her boss, Dr. Steven Oken, described Carey as a person who was "always happy."
I would never in a million years believe that she would do something like this," he said. "It's the furthest thing from anything I would think she would do, especially with her child in the car. I am floored that it would be her."
Investigators believe Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist, was the lone gunman in the shooting spree at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. earlier today in which 12 people were killed before the suspect was killed in a firefight with police, and authorities have lifted a shelter in place for the remaining residents in the area.
The 12 deceased shooting victims range in age from 46 to 73 years old, Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said at an evening news conference. Officials are still notifying the families of about half of the 12 people who were killed, he said.
"We have no evidence that any active military are amongst the victims," Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.
Police identified the seven victims whose families had been notified as: Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Fraiser, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46; and Vishnu Pandit, 61.
The death of Alexis, 34, of Fort Worth, Texas, brought the toll of the carnage at the Navy Sea Systems Command headquarters to 13. The shooter's identity was confirmed based on a partial finger print analysis, authorities said.
The suspect had a security clearance that allowed him onto the Navy Yard as part of his civilian subcontracting work, officials said.
Alexis and members of the subcontracting team, according to law enforcement sources, were staying at a Residence Inn about a mile from the Navy Yard. The suspect's car was found on the Washington Navy Yard, law enforcement sources said.
A senior law enforcement official said he used his security clearance to get on campus and it appeared he did not force his way onto the property. Officials were in the process of getting a search warrant to search the vehicle, which was described as a rental car.
Authorities had earlier said they were searching for a possible second suspect, but officials said at the evening news conference said the search for a black suspect in olive-drab uniform age 40 to 50 has been exhausted.
Earlier Monday, Lanier praised the works by police officers who responded to the incident.
"I think the actions by the police officers, without question, helped to reduce the number of lives lost," she said.
Lanier said police and the suspect exchanged gunfire "multiple times" before he was shot and killed in a final gun battle.
Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington D.C. field office, said investigators were trying to learn everything they can about Alexis.
"No piece of information is too small," Parlave said.
She asked anyone with information about his recent movements, contacts and associates to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Another man who was sought for a possible connection to the shooting was located this afternoon and was no longer a "suspect or person of interest," according to a tweet from the Metropolitan Police Department.
Lanier declined to discuss what evidence led police to believe the massacre could have potentially been carried out by more than one person.
"We have reason to believe these people may be involved and we want to talk to them," Lanier said at an afternoon news conference. She said there was "no known motive" for the massacre.
Among the wounded was a law enforcement officer who was shot in an exchange with the gunman.
The shooting brought parts of Washington D.C. to a standstill.
The Washington Nationals, whose stadium is a couple blocks away from the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, said the team's game tonight against the Atlanta Braves was postponed until Tuesday.
The Senate complex was placed under a temporary lockdown this afternoon "in light of the uncertainty surrounding the shooting" and the possibility that a second shooter might have been at large, Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance W. Gainer wrote in a note to the Senate community.
At nearby Reagan National Airport this morning, a ground stop was imposed by the FAA. All planes have since resumed flying out of the airport, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman told ABC News.
Nine D.C. public schools were placed on lock downs this morning, according to the District of Columbia Public Schools' Twitter account, but all schools were dismissed as scheduled this afternoon.
Washington D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton told reporters the district has not "had a day like this since 9/11."
President Obama ordered the flags at all federal and military installations to be flown at half-staff through Friday in honor of the victims.
At the beginning of a news conference today, Obama said he was briefed on the shooting.
"We are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened on a military installation in our nation's capital," he said.
Obama said he wanted a "seamless" investigation into the shooting and was standing with the victims and their families affected by what he called a "cowardly act."
"It targeted our military and civilian personnel, men and women who were going to work, doing their job protecting all of us. They are patriots and they know the dangers of serving abroad," Obama said. "But today they faced the unimaginable violence that they won't have expected here at home."
Two Officers Among the Injured
Two law enforcement officers were among the injured when the suspect fired shots inside the 3,000-person building at 8:20 a.m. Law enforcement officials initially told personnel to evacuate the building but they were later told to shelter in place.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent a team of special agents to help secure the scene. This is the same team that helped apprehend Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to the spokesman.
Three gunshot victims were taken to Washington Medical Center with "severe injuries," according to Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at the hospital.
The victims were described as a male Metropolitan police officer who had "multiple gunshot wounds to his legs," a woman who was shot in the head and the hand and another woman who was shot in the shoulder.
Orlowski said all three were in critical condition, however they were conscious and were expected to survive.
Navy Yard Witnesses Heard Series of Loud Pops
Patricia Ward, a logistics management specialist at the Navy Yard, said she heard a series of shots, at least seven, in rapid succession.
"A few of us just ran outside the side exit," Ward said.
Outside the building she saw a security guard with her gun drawn who told them to run and shelter.
Ward said the building has security.
"You need a card to enter the building. It's very hard to get in without a card," she said.
"Being with the incident that happened today, not secure enough for me," Ward said.
Frank Putzo, an attorney at the Navy Yard, told ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV he was on the fourth floor of the building when the shooting began.
"We heard three sounds, it sounded like a table collapsing on the ground," he said.
He said he came out of his office and heard a "very loud pop" about a minute later that he estimated was about 100 feet away.
"When that happened everyone said, 'This is no drill, go, go, go,'" he said. "And a whole bunch of us were able to make it to the emergency exits. And we heard several more shots."
The Naval Sea Systems Command, the largest of the Navy's five commands, is responsible for engineering, building, buying and maintaining ships, submarines and combat systems in the Navy's fleet.
CHICAGO (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has cancelled a Tuesday luncheon appearance before Chicago's business and political elite to head to Washington and begin preparing for congressional debate on possible action in Syria.
The No. 2 Senate Democrat was among the 15 members of Congress briefed on the situation by telephone last week.
President Barack Obama says he'll seek congressional approval for military strikes against the Assad regime. He's trying to rally support among Americans and congressmen.
Durbin was to speak about sentencing for non-violent drug offenders Tuesday before the City Club of Chicago. His office issued a notice Monday that as a member of Senate leadership and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he'll be in Washington preparing for debate instead.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for major changes to the nation's criminal justice system that would scale back the use of harsh prison sentences for certain drug-related crimes, divert people convicted of low-level offenses to drug treatment and community service programs and expand a prison program to allow for release of some elderly, non-violent offenders.
In remarks prepared for delivery Monday to the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Holder said he is mandating a change to Justice Department policy so that low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels won't be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimum sentences.
Mandatory minimum prison sentences — a product of the government's war on drugs in the 1980s — limit the discretion of judges to impose shorter prison sentences.
Under the altered policy, the attorney general said defendants will instead be charged with offenses for which accompanying sentences "are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins."
Federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity and hold more than 219,000 inmates — with almost half of them serving time for drug-related crimes and many of them with substance use disorders. In addition, 9 million to 10 million prisoners go through local jails each year. Holder praised state and local law enforcement officials for already instituting some of the types of changes Holder says must be made at the federal level.
Aggressive enforcement of federal criminal laws is necessary, but "we cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation," Holder said. "Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it."
"We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget," said the attorney general.
Holder said mandatory minimum sentences "breed disrespect for the system. When applied indiscriminately, they do not serve public safety. They have had a disabling effect on communities. And they are ultimately counterproductive."
Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have introduced legislation aimed at giving federal judges more discretion in applying mandatory minimums to certain drug offenders.
Holder said new approaches — which he is calling the "Smart On Crime" initiative — are the result of a Justice Department review he launched early this year.
The attorney general said some issues are best handled at the state or local level and said he has directed federal prosecutors across the country to develop locally tailored guidelines for determining when federal charges should be filed, and when they should not.
"By targeting the most serious offenses, prosecuting the most dangerous criminals, directing assistance to crime 'hot spots,' and pursuing new ways to promote public safety, deterrence, efficiency and fairness — we can become both smarter and tougher on crime," Holder said.
The attorney general said 17 states have directed money away from prison construction and toward programs and services such as treatment and supervision that are designed to reduce the problem of repeat offenders.
In Kentucky, legislation has reserved prison beds for the most serious offenders and refocused resources on community supervision. The state, Holder said, is projected to reduce its prison population by more than 3,000 over the next 10 years, saving more than $400 million.
He also cited investments in drug treatment in Texas for non-violent offenders and changes to parole policies which he said brought about a reduction in the prison population of more than 5,000 inmates last year. He said similar efforts helped Arkansas reduce its prison population by more than 1,400. He also pointed to Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Hawaii as states that have improved public safety while preserving limited resources.
Holder also said the department is expanding a policy for considering compassionate release for inmates facing extraordinary or compelling circumstances, and who pose no threat to the public. He said the expansion will include elderly inmates who did not commit violent crimes and who have served significant portions of their sentences.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The father of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin will be on Capitol Hill for a hearing addressing the challenges faced by African-American boys and men.
Tracy Martin will give opening remarks Wednesday at the inaugural hearing of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Illinois Congressman Danny Davis are the co-chairs of the newly formed caucus. Both are Democrats.
The hearing will also feature remarks by David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans; Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson; and Kweisi Mfume, a former congressman and NAACP president.
Earlier this month, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder in the slaying of the 17 year old Martin, who was unarmed.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is proposing cuts to Social Security as an attempt to compromise with Republicans on the budget.
A senior administration official says the budget Obama will offer to Congress next Wednesday would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years. It includes a revised inflation adjustment called "chained CPI" that would curb cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs.
The senior administration official stressed it is not the president's preferred approach but a compromise proposal to try to reach a long-term budget deal. Obama first made the offer to House Speaker John Boehner last year.
The official spoke on a condition of anonymity since the budget has yet to be released. Technically, the administration actually would be limiting the growth of Social Security.
Washington is borrowing about 25 cents for every dollar it spends, down from over 40 cents just a few years ago.
And the budget deficit is dropping to $845 billion after topping $1 trillion for four straight years. The Congressional Budget Office says the deficit will keep shrinking — to $430 billion by 2015.
That's the good news.
But without a fix, the government's finances will start to worsen again as the three major "entitlement" programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — become more and more expensive and unmanageable under the increasing weight of retiring baby boomers.