Senator: Deal reached to avoid default and open government

Senate leaders announced last-minute agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after a partial, 16-day shutdown. Congress raced to pass the measure by day's end.
Associated Press
Oct 16, 2013

The Dow Jones industrial average soared on the news that the threat of default was fading, flirting with a 200-point gain in morning trading.

"This is a time for reconciliation," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the agreement he had forged with the GOP leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

McConnell said that with the agreement, Republicans had sealed a deal to have spending in one area of the budget decline for two years in a row, adding, "we're not going back."

One prominent tea party lawmaker, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said he would oppose the plan, but not seek to delay its passage.

That was a key concession that signaled a strong possibility that both houses could act by day's end. That, in turn, would allow President Barack Obama could sign the bill into law ahead of the Thursday deadline that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had set for action to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

Officials said the proposal called for the Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would reopen through Jan. 15.

There was no official comment from the White House, although congressional officials said administration aides had been kept fully informed of the negotiations.

While the emerging deal could well meet resistance from conservatives in the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, has signaled she will support the plan and her rank and file is expected to vote for it in overwhelming numbers.

That raised the possibility that more Democrats than Republicans would back it, potentially causing additional problems for House Speaker John Boehner as he struggles to manage his tea party-heavy majority.

Boehner and the House Republican leadership met in a different part of the Capitol to plan their next move. A spokesman, Michael Steel, said afterward that no decision had been made "about how or when a potential Senate agreement could be voted on in the House."

The developments came one day before the deadline Lew had set for Congress to raise the current $16.7 trillion debt limit. Without action by lawmakers, he said, Treasury could not be certain it had the ability to pay bills as they come due.

In addition to raising the debt limit, the proposal would give lawmakers a vote to disapprove the increase. Obama would have the right to veto their opposition, ensuring he would prevail.

House and Senate negotiators would be appointed to seek a deficit-reduction deal. At the last minute, Reid and McConnell jettisoned a plan to give federal agencies increased flexibility in coping with the effects of across-the-board cuts. Officials said that would be a topic for the negotiations expected to begin shortly.

Despite initial Republican demands for the defunding of the health care law known as Obamacare, the pending agreement makes only one modest change in the program. It requires individuals and families seeking subsidies to purchase coverage to verify their incomes before qualifying.

There were some dire warnings from the financial world a day after the Fitch credit rating agency said it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade.

John Chambers, chairman of Standard & Poor's Sovereign Debt Committee, told "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday that a U.S. government default on its debts would be "much worse than Lehman Brothers," the investment firm whose 2008 collapse led to the global financial crisis.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC he doesn't think the federal government will fail to pay its bills, but "if it does happen, it's a pure act of idiocy."

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a tea party favorite, said he was not worried about the prospect of a U.S. default.

"We are going to service our debt," he told CNN. "But I am concerned about all the rhetoric around this ....I'm concerned that it will scare the markets."

Aides to Reid and McConnell said the two men had resumed talks, including a Tuesday night conversation, and were hopeful about striking an agreement that could pass both houses.

It was expected to mirror a deal the leaders had neared Monday. That agreement was described as extending the debt limit through Feb. 7, immediately reopening the government fully and keeping agencies running until Jan. 15 — leaving lawmakers clashing over the same disputes in the near future.

It also set a mid-December deadline for bipartisan budget negotiators to report on efforts to reach compromise on longer-term issues like spending cuts. And it likely would require the Obama administration to certify that it can verify the income of people who qualify for federal subsidies for medical insurance under the 2010 health care law.

But that emerging Senate pact was put on hold Tuesday, an extraordinary day that highlighted how unruly rank-and-file House Republicans can be, even when the stakes are high. Facing solid Democratic opposition, Boehner tried in vain to write legislation that would satisfy GOP lawmakers, especially conservatives.

Boehner crafted two versions of the bill, but neither made it to a House vote because both faced certain defeat. Working against him was word during the day from the influential group Heritage Action for America that his legislation was not conservative enough — a worrisome threat for many GOP lawmakers whose biggest electoral fears are of primary challenges from the right.

The last of Boehner's two bills had the same dates as the emerging Senate plan on the debt limit andshutdown.

But it also blocked federal payments for the president, members of Congress and other officials to help pay for their health care coverage. And it prevented the Obama administration from shifting funds among different accounts — as past Treasury secretaries have done — to let the government keep paying bills briefly after the federal debt limit has been reached.

Boehner's inability to produce a bill that could pass his own chamber likely means he will have to let the House vote on a Senate compromise, even if that means it would pass with strong Democratic and weak GOP support. House Republican leaders have tried to avoid that scenario for fear that it would threaten their leadership, and some Republicans worried openly about that.

"Of all the damage to be done politically here, one of the greatest concerns I have is that somehow John Boehner gets compromised," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a former House member and a Boehner supporter.

With the default clock ticking ever louder, it was possible the House might vote first on a plan produced by Senate leaders. For procedural reasons, that could speed the measure's trip through Congress by removing some parliamentary barriers Senate opponents might erect.

The strains of the confrontation were showing among GOP lawmakers.

"It's time to reopen the government and ensure we don't default on our debt," Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., said in a written statement. "I will not vote for poison pills that have no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law."

Comments

mikesee

Doggie I already take responsiblity for my bills. Maybe the able bodied people drawing entitlements can pay a portion of theirs???????

deertracker

CAPITULATION......GOP style!

Contango

Re: "CAPITULATION......GOP style!"

Yep! Congratulations, your SSDI, Medicaid and SNAP benefits are safe until next yr.

deertracker

Yours too!

Contango

Re: "Yours too!"

Good to see that you've FINALLY admitted it.

You DO know that SSDI is scheduled to go bankrupt in 2016 don't you?

deertracker

You do know one has to be disabled to receive SSDI? You might qualify with that drinking problem of yours!

Contango

Re: "disabled to receive SSDI"

In your case fraud works too.

deertracker

Shhhhh! It's a secret!

Gardenman

I think some people can dream all they want about Cruz/Palin 2016 but it is no more than a dream. The country is "sick" of Cruz and his buddies and the vast majority of voters have had it with these ultra conservatives. Palin has been a joke since she first come to national attention when McCain chose her for VP. I mean honestly would you ever want Sarah Palin having the nuclear launch codes to start a nuclear war that could destroy the entire world.......that is shear panic for all of us.

These ultra conservatives are probably dedicated Americans but they have gone at this in such a terrible way.....they have done more damage to themselves and their cause than what they ever wanted to inflict on the other side.

This may well be be the beginning of the end for the ultra conservative movement. They will have to battle in the next election not just against Democrats in their district but against moderate Republicans.

Cruz and company have hurt real people and cost them jobs and the loss of pay and unfair hardships. America can no longer stand for this kind of actions in its legislators and these people have got to be tossed out at the next election.

Kramer

I'm not sick of Cruz at all. In fact, he's the closest thing we have left in DC to a founding father. By the way, if you leftists/statists were around in 1776 you would be talking the exact same trash about those "terrorist, arsonists" George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. You worship at the government altar much like colonials that sympathized with the King.

Gardenman

I think you seriously have to ask if this is the way you want to run government. Do you want to be in a situation where you have been hurt by this and in January we could go thru this again. This is no way to run a company, a business or guess what a government.

I fail to understand how you think this is all fine and not a problem when your neighbors are put thru this kind of pain only because they chose to work for the federal government. It you are fine with that then please tell upfront the men and women being deployed for foreign soil wearing the uniform of a United State military employee I am in favor of you not being paid, feed, supplied with equipment, etc. if I do not get my way in Congress. Please be upfront with them before you put them in harms way.

In all the differences in the Vietnam war or more recently the Iraq War under GWB did any congressman or group of congressman shut down the government and threaten not to pay, supply, support, equip, etc our troops on those battle grounds unless they got their way. Yet this is just what Tom Cruz and company are doing with the lives of American soldiers today. This can not be permitted to continue and these congressman have got to be voted out of office at the next election. And I think many will be.

Kramer

Your premise is that Cruz caused the shutdown. I could just as easily say to you that the Dems caused this be refusing to agree to some more budget cuts and/or delaying the Obamacare mandate.

You mean to tell me that Democrats love their obamacare so much that they would shut down the government and default rather than cut their spending a little and delay the mandate??

I guess it's all how you look at it isn't it Garden??

Kramer

and Garden, do you really want to make the case that the Dems are operating the government like a business? Besides the Repubs sent legislation to the senate that would pay the military and the Dems refused to vote on it. I guess that means they want to cheat the troops, right?

Gardenman

Cruz is one who has orchestrated this in the Senate and has tried his best to control it in the House as well. There is no reason to delay the Affordable Care Act in this way. This is a law. It went thru all the procedures of a bill was voted in the affirmative in the House and the Senate, signed by the President and challeged in the highest court in the country and was ruled as constitutional. So after all happening a few who legislators who do not like the bill say well we will not fund it.....ub fact we will shut down the entire US Government to get our way. That is not the way it is done unless you subscribe to the ultra conservative philosophy.

There are those who probably do not like Social Security, or Medicare or thousands of other programs but is this the way to change it? Absolutely not. You know that I know that and Cruz and all the other ultra conservative now that....yet they are willing to shut down the government and go to the extent of not paying or suppling our miiitary troops in a war halfway around the world. To save the ire of even those in thier own party they want to send piece meal funding to the the President. No that is not the way we run a government either.

As said by folks of both parties you can not and must not hold a country hostage just because you don't agree with the legislation that have been voted into law. There is a process for that and we all know that and by gosh Cruz and company knows it too!!! AND when it finally comes down to the wire of the country not paying it's bills and puts us into default what does Cruz and company do they finally go out without a wimper. They have enough sense to know if they take this country over the brink they are done for sure.

I think the ultra conservatives have actually given themselves a deadly blow if not a fatal one. There are so many people in both parties that are fed up and have had it with these ultra conservatives. They may well have set the wheels in motion teir demise. I think you will see many of these ultra conservaties lose office in 2014 in the House and Senate elections.

America has never in all it's existence been held hostage by a small group of ciizens with a different idealogy. It did not this time and I am confident it will not in the future.

mikesee

Gardenman, do you think this is any way to run a gov't? Not being accountable to the taxpayers? Spending with reckless abandon with no possible way to ever pay the bill? You are right when you say this is no way to run a company or business because they WOULD HAVE BEEN CLOSED DUE TO BANKRUPTCY!!!

Dr. Information

Gardenman must of missed the last 30 years when this country (especially Obama) has ran up debt to the point where we aren't collecting enough to cover what we are spending year after year. I suppose you think that is a great business model huh?

Contango

Re: "America can no longer stand for this kind of actions in its legislators,"

So you're happy to get back to taxing, borrowing, printing and spend, spend, spending our way to bankruptcy huh?

The Big Dog's back

pooh, how much did the shutdown cost?

deertracker

crickets, crickets, crickets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Contango

Re: "crickets, crickets, crickets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Better make an appt. with your Medicaid physician if you're hearing crickets from this blog.

deertracker

I did! He told me to take a big gulp of Kessler's and I'll be just like pooh! I fired that guy!

kURTje

Like the flat tax for all, no exceptions no loopholes.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

^^THIS^^

Dr. Information

Dems wont fly for it and neither will the suckers in this country. When you hand feed millions of people and take the hand away........well you get the point.

The New World Czar

No spending cuts, kick the can for a few more months. Nothing accomplished.

Darwin's choice

Coasterfan,
I wanted to let you know that earlier today I received my "Obamacare enrollment packet” from the White House.It contained:· An aspirin and a band-aid.· An 'Obama Hope & Change' bumper sticker· A 'Bush's Fault' yard sign· A 'Blame Republicans first, then anybody and everybody' poster· A 'Tax the Rich' banner· An application for unemployment and a free cellphone· An application for food stamps· A prayer rug· A letter assigning my debt to my grandchildren· And lastly, a coupon for a machine that blows smoke up my ass.

Gardenman

Study that enrollment packet very carefully, think very hard about it and then go back and look at it again and think some more about it..........after you have done that think about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan at this time last year. They were the hope, the future, the way and the life for the Republicans. Well one year later Mitt is pretty much forgotten, Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans in the House just shut down the government for the past 2 1/2 weeks. Now there is a leader for you a guy that wanted to be Vice President just voted to shut down the government he wanted to lead a year ago. Then there is Barack Obama,,,,,well he is still the President and he calls the White House home and he just stood firm and would not negotiate ACA with the Republicans or kneel to other Republicans demands. AND yes, the Affordable Health Care Act is still law the President did not negotiate it away for Americans because the Republicans did not like it.

You keep criticizing the President as that is your right, you keep makes jokes of Presient Obama, you keep being a Republican and having these crazy ideas like truomg to have the US default on its bills and you think that is somehow a good thing. You are making a mockery of the statement "true faith and credit of the United States" a joke to every county in the world. While all that is gong on President Obama wil continue to lead the United States for which he was elected to do last November and I might add winning rather handily over your Republican challengers.

By the way if you Republicans ever have a desire to lead this country I sure would try to clean up on the job performance over the past few weeks for you folks have done a terrible job of running the House of Representatives and oh my gosh you want to run the country from the White House. It took the Senate lead by the Democrats to save the country from going over the cliff and in default. Senate now has the government back open from the Republicans shutting it down, I guess because they did not get thier way and they said well we will shut it down then. But you go ahead make fun of President Obama and the Democrats and the rest of us will keep leading the country for you Republicans sure can't do the job....we see that in your performance clearly every day. The polls are all quite brutal to the Republicans over this latest mess.........you all have a good November 2014.....you are going to need it.......If I was Republican I sure would be dreading next November it won't be pretty.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Dear Gardenman,

Don't get me wrong, I am very bitter at many Republicans but to imply that Democrats are the solution to all problems (and clean as the wind-driven snow) is absurd. Their arrogance and self-perceived superiority is just as frustrating as the floundering mealy-mouths on the right.

Do you ever question your party? If not, you should try it. Questions lead to answers and understanding. Here are some, perhaps rhetorical, I have:

The Senate saved us eh? It only took, what?, about one trillion more dollars to have us limp along until January? Oh yeah, there's some hard core leadership, the stuff of legends. The shutdown? How mature of the President and others in his party to call Americans arsonists, hostage-takers, and the like while demanding a CR (not a budget) that doesn't even bother to look at where the money is going. That just oozes sensitivity, outreach, and wanting to bring people into an understanding like the enlightened teacher he is supposed to be. The default? How odd it is that the President never actually explained to his party let alone the 310+ million people he is supposed to lead that the only way that would happen is if he let it happen on purpose. The ACA? Why doesn't our President have #000-000-001 on his account number? Where was his public signing of himself and his family on day one in this service? What about Congress for that matter?

So, with all due respect, don't go extolling the virtues of Democrats as if they are somehow superior to the mush-pit of Republicans in Washington D.C. It's that kind of snide presumption that turns away reasonable, independent people from entertaining Democrat ideas. And I will say again that the Republicans are vomit-inducing too. Funny though, I can't say in my time here actively reading stories and posting that I have seen any elephant-flag-waving Republicans that so fervently sling sideways remarks at those who dare question the agenda/leadership.

I will say this much, at least the Democrats pander to their base, the Republicans seem to actually alienate it. So I guess they have that going where nobody actually asks their leadership questions or challenges them. That's a perk. I'd rather be a GOB in the Democratic Party any day with obedience like that!

Democrats are NOT immune from November 2014 either and blinding yourself with comments like this will not help you from helping them see that there is a better way to rule us little people. The masses. The proles. You know, we who must be dumb by not registering as a Democrat. At least the Republicans have a group/faction that is attempting to pull their establishments' heads out of their hind quarters. They have a group that is willing to try and actually explain things to people.

Where is the Democrat counterpart? Who is their Great Explainer? Their educator? Funny, all I have heard are second-grade name callings and wild, dire threats. That's from those in elected office, not the posters here though some days what's the difference? Are your comments even supposed to convince people to join the party to which you subscribe?

In summary as I have been told on many occasions I write too much:

Great, we get a Republican dad who is an impotent, bipolar drunk and an absolute selfish, browbeating shrew of a mom who spends all the family money on herself claiming she actually is saving money because she bought something on sale when she didn't need it in the first place.

Oh yeah, November 2014, I'm just salivating to vote for those choices. I can't wait to vote Democrat! I mean Republican! I mean...wait, what's the difference?

November 2014: The year we can finally get term limits in Congress? I'll vote for that in a heartbeat!

Until then please keep your divisive, partisan nya-nyas to yourself as for as much as you want to brag about the party to which you must belong and/or donate money to you are actually disenfranchising possible supporters who don't subscribe wholly to your donkey-deity but may be willing to listen if you'd stop thumping your pulpit and telling me I'm going someplace warm for being who I am - which in your opinion is wholly inferior to you. I don't see throngs of people lining up to join the Westboro Baptist Church, so that tactic shouldn't be used.

Sincerely,

An independent sick and tired of hearing how the parties think it is all about them and not about us, the citizens.

meowmix

Mr. Zone: Your above post only lets us know you hate both parties. Pray tell, what is your solution? Ralph Nader? Dennis Kucinich? Capt. Kangaroo? You are very adept at criticizing both Dem's and Rep's and have musings for a perfect utopian society but, who do you think will lead us to the land of milk and honey?

grumpy

"Pray tell, what is your solution? Ralph Nader? "

Deciding he won't back people who kick the can... yet again, time after time, telling others he won't and is actively looking for someone, probably who isn't part of the dumb and dumber party... Is a plan. It is more than following the sheepole and sticking his head in the sand, like those in the dumb and dumber party. Getting those who kick the can down the road out of office, either by term limits or voting for those not in either dumb and dumber party is another. Our gov't shouldn't be about office holders, it should be about policies, who gives a crap about personalities or likability if their policies suck?

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