By Richard Cowan and David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan budget deal announced in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, though modest in its spending cuts, would end three years of impasse and fiscal instability in Washington that culminated in October with a partial government shutdown. While praised by the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the agreement faces a challenge from some House conservatives and will require support of the minority Democrats to pass. The backing of President Barack Obama, who also hailed the agreement as "a good first step," should help round up votes of his fellow Democrats. He urged Congress to quickly pass it.
By James Mackenzie ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Enrico Letta called on parliament on Wednesday to back his government or risk chaos as he sought to push through long-avoided reforms intended to revive Italy's economy after two years of recession. Opening a debate in the lower house before his third confidence vote since October, Letta said Italy had avoided reforms for 20 years and could no longer afford to delay, with protests across the country this week underlining the bitter public mood after years of painful attempts to squeeze costs and boost revenues. I won't give in to those who say the chaos is too much and we can't do anything," he said, pledging to combat a growing tide of political disillusion and hostility to the European Union. The economy is now smaller than it was more than a decade ago and obstacles range from rampant corruption and a discredited political system to a level of tax evasion which the head of Italy's tax authority said this week was incompatible with a democratic state.