Senate and House Approve Deal to Fund Government, Raise Debt Ceiling
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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Sixteen days into the government shutdown, the Senate and House voted Wednesday to end the fiscal stalemate.
A deal, which will fund the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, was approved by the House with a 285-144 vote. The Senate passed the same measure earlier in the evening with an 81-18 vote.
President Obama spoke from the White House press briefing room after the Senate vote stating he will sign the bill as soon as it arrives on his desk.
“We can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty from our businesses and from the American people,” Obama said.
“One of the things that I said throughout this process is we’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” he explained. “And my hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can’t work on the issues at hand, why we can’t disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we’re not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.”
CBS News reported that as he was leaving the room, Obama was asked if he thought that due to the temporary nature of the agreement that “isn’t this going to happen all over again in a few months?”
“No,” he responded.
Thursday the president will detail his long-term budget vision. Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks at the White House beginning at 10:35 a.m.
In a statement, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the U.S. is in the clear fiscally.
“Because of today’s efforts, we will continue to honor all of our commitments – a core American value – and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States,” Lew said.
The agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling was negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“This compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” Reid said on the floor earlier Wednesday when he announced an agreement had been reached. “It’s never easy for two sides to reach consensus. It’s really hard, sometimes harder than others. This time was really hard.”
According to CBS News, Senate members who voted against the bill felt it did not do anything to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“This is a terrible deal,” Sen. Ted Cruz, said before the vote. “This deal embodies everything about the Washington establishment that frustrates the American people.”
The agreement also authorizes retroactive pay for federal employees who were furloughed. It calls for the government to reimburse states for the costs they incurred executing federal programs amid the shutdown.
A congressional group led by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan is being charged with creating a long-term budget deal that is due in December.
It took a combination of both Republicans and Democrats in the House to pass the measure.
“This is a time for reconciliation,” Reid said of the agreement.
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.”
The New York Stock Exchange soared on the news that the threat of default was easing in, rising nearly 200 points by late morning.
Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican leadership met earlier in a different part of the Capitol to plan their next move.
In a written statement released by Boehner’s office Wednesday afternoon, he said the following.
“The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country’s debt and providing fairness for the American people under ObamaCare. That fight will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us.”
The developments in Congressional impasse 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.
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.”
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