Article: Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing
Summary: Just on day away from when the debt ceiling was to be reached and the United States was on the brink of default, it appears that a bipartisan deal is on the horizon. This agreement was announced by Senate leaders and endorsed by the White House. Speaker Boehner has stated that the G.O.P. will not stand in the way of a vote. Boehner has stated that he would encourage his caucus to support the Senate measure so that hopefully the government will reopen (both House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have stepped in line with Boehner in this effort). Boehner has stated that he will still try to force Obama to amend aspects of the Affordable Care Act, but the Senate is ready to fight this. Passage of this bill would mean the federal government could borrow money to pay the government’s bills and provide payment to the furloughed workers. Passage of the bill will likely lead to a showdown over spending cuts and entitlement in Congress over the next four months, as lifting the debt ceiling would fund the government through Jan. 15. As part of the agreement, the House would appoint a budget committee headed by representatives from both parties to negotiate a budget resolution in December to avoid a budget crisis, similar to the one experienced last year. In the negotiations Democrats dropped their demand to delay a new tax on existing health-insurance plans and Republicans backed off their push to deny the Treasury Department flexibility to manage the nation’s books after Feb. 7. In addition, Republicans got additional safeguards to ensure that people who receive subsidies to can buy health insurance as part of a Democratic concession. Many House Republicans are not happy with the agreement, such as Senators Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, as they believe too many concessions were made, in part, because of lack of a sound approach to make the gains they wanted. Democrats say there are enough Republicans who will vote with them to pass the bill, and even conservative Rep. Jim Jordan acknowledged that it appeared likely that the House would approve the Senate deal using mostly Democratic votes.
Analysis: Concessions from both sides make it evident that a majority of Congress is willing to put aside partisan differences to reopen the government and “send a message to Americans . . . and in addition to that, to the citizens of every country in the world, that the United States lives up to its obligations.” The most pressing issue that led to these concessions was the proximity to the debt ceiling, at which the U.S. would be forced to default on its debts. Even Senator Ted Cruz, who staged a 21 hour filibuster, stated he would not try to delay the vote, but would instead just vote “no.” Similarly, Speaker John Boehner took even more measures to end the shutdown as he encouraged his caucus to vote for the measure. Government leaders are focused on getting the government running again in the first place and avoid a default on debts, so more negotiations and deals are on the way on key issues such as more detailed aspects of the Affordable Care Act and the budget will be debated since both sides are still hoping for concessions along the way. Some critics of Boehner criticize his endorsement of the agreement as a form a damage-control that does not best represent the interests of the Republican Party, but nonetheless it appears there are enough Republican votes to get the agreement past. Perhaps the following statement by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell best expresses the reasons for concessions, particularly on the Republican sides: “Republicans remain determined to repeal this terrible law. But for today – for today – the relief we hope for is to reopen the government, avoid default and protect the historic cuts we achieved under the Budget Control Act.” Even though the shutdown seems to be coming to an end more deals and agreements will have to be made over key issues as we approach a new debt ceiling, but it appears there will be a better approach, as Congress has already made it evident the wish to set up a committee with bipartisan leadership and participation to work toward settling these issues.