Senate leaders announce agreement to end shutdown, raise debt
Top senators struck a deal Wednesday to reopen the government and extend the federal government’s borrowing authority into next year and both sides of the Capitol are hoping for quick action to reassure nervous financial markets eyeing a Thursday deadline set by the Treasury Department.
“The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said after he and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell, struck the deal.
For Republicans, the deal was more about getting an embarrassing couple of weeks behind them than in being able to claim victory in a deal that they felt compelled to make.
“It’s my hope that today we can put some of those most urgent issues behind us,” Mr. McConnell said.
The agreement by Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell signals the bill should clear the Senate, but it must also survive the House, where Republicans have the majority but leaders have shown little ability to control the floor. The legislation will likely require House Democrats to provide the majority of support.
The deal would reopen the government with a stopgap spending bill running to Jan. 15, and would extend the government’s borrowing authority through at least Feb. 7. It would also require both the House and Senate to name negotiators to try to reach a final deal on a 2014 budget, giving them a December deadline.
The only major concession Republicans won was to include strict income monitoring of those seeking taxpayer subsidies under Obamacare.
Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who led the GOP into its stance to withhold government funding until President Obama canceled the health care law, said Wednesday he had no regrets, and blamed his Republican colleagues for not backing his effort.
“Unfortunately the Senate chose not to follow the House,” Mr. Cruz told reporters.
He said that as Obamacare takes root, Americans are seeing their health premiums go “up and up and up,” while others are losing the coverage they once enjoyed.
Mr. Cruz did say he will not block action on the bill, which should allow it a speedier passage through the Senate. Before the shutdown, Mr. Cruz led a losing filibuster to try to stop passage of a spending bill, arguing he wanted to ensure it cut off Obamacare.
The Treasury Department had said it would run out of maneuvering room under the $16.7 trillion debt limit on Thursday, leaving it to pay out bills only with the cash still coming in from taxes and fees.
But Barclays financial services firm said in a memo Wednesday that it believes that cash would be enough to keep the government afloat through the end of the month, buying time for lawmakers to go through the hurdles of passing a bill through both chambers and getting it to Mr. Obama’s desk.
In laying out the deal he struck, Mr. McConnell sought to shift the focus to the next battle already looming over the budget sequesters.
Democrats have sought to undo the cuts, which are set to see a second round go into effect on Jan. 15. But Mr. McConnell said the next few months for Republicans will be about defending those cuts.