Capping weeks of brinksmanship negotiations, the Senate and House passed a bill to halt a partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling before the Treasury Department would supposedly exceed its borrowing authority. The legislation now heads to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to sign it into law once it reaches his desk.
The House of Representatives, in a vote of 285 to 144, passed a bill to re-open the partially shutdown government and raise the debt ceiling, staving off a potential default after Thursday.
The deal passed earlier by the Senate in a vote of 81 to 18, includes a continuing resolution to fund the government through Jan. 15, increase the nation’s borrowing limit through Feb. 7, continues to provide the Treasury Department with the ability to enact “extraordinary measures,” and an income verification provision for people who receive subsidies on the ObamaCare medical insurance exchanges.
The bill also includes instructions to assemble a bipartisan committee to gather and report by mid-December a way forward on the nation’s fiscal issues to avoid similar situations like the one lasting the last few weeks, in the future.
The bill now heads to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to sign the legislation “immediately.” In a press conference following the Senate votes, and ahead of the House vote series, Obama addressed the nation.
“”Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. We’ll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people,” the president said.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew issued a statement prior to the House vote in which he said he welcomed Congressional bi-partisan action to avoid this fiscal crisis.
“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, he said.
Though the House approved of the effort to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, House Speaker John Boehner pledged to continue work to stop “the train wreck that is the president’s health care law.” At the final conference before taking up the bill, House Republicans gave the Speaker a standing ovation, showing solidarity that ended the liberal chatter about Boehner losing the gavel.
Even though Boehner and the Republican majority did not agree with the lack of spending cuts, Boehner said blocking previous efforts to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote would have been irresponsible.
“In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts,” he wrote.
Lew also recognized the need for spending and budget reforms, and pledged to support negotiation efforts now that the debt ceiling is no longer an immediate and direct threat to the nation’s full faith and credit.
“At the same time, we remain committed to reaching agreement on a balanced fiscal package that will create jobs, grow our economy, and put us on a path toward long-term fiscal sustainability. Without question, it will require difficult choices. We stand ready to find that common ground with both Republicans and Democrats so we can sustain the recovery the American people have so painstakingly fought for and ensure we remain the most powerful economy in the world for generations to come.”