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10/16/2013 7:32:00 PM
Congress votes to avoid default, approves temporary reprieve
Speaker of the House John Boehner
Speaker of the House John Boehner
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

WASHINGTON (AP) - Up against a deadline, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation late Wednesday night to avoid a threatened national default and end the 16-day partial government shutdown, the culmination of an epic political drama that placed the U.S. economy at risk.

The Senate voted first, a bipartisan 81-18 at midevening. That cleared the way for a final 285-144 vote in the Republican-controlled House about two hours later on the legislation, which hewed strictly to the terms Obama laid down when the twin crises erupted more than three weeks ago.

The legislation would permit the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer, and fund the government through Jan. 15. More than 2 million federal workers would be paid - those who had remained on the job and those who had been furloughed.

At the White House, Obama hailed the Senate's vote and encouraged the House to follow suit. Once the measure reaches his desk, he said, "I will sign it immediately. We'll begin reopening our government immediately and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty from our businesses and the American people."

Less than an hour later, as debate began in the House, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said, "After two long weeks, it is time to end this government shutdown. It's time to take the threat of default off the table. It's time to restore some sanity to this place."

The stock market surged higher at the prospect of an end to the crisis that also had threatened to shake confidence in the U.S. economy overseas.

Republicans conceded defeat after a long struggle. "We fought the good fight. We just didn't win," conceded House Speaker John Boehner as lawmakers lined up to vote on a bill that includes nothing for GOP lawmakers who had demand to eradicate or scale back Obama's signature health care overhaul.

"The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, declaring that the nation "came to the brink of disaster" before sealing an agreement.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who negotiated the deal with Reid, emphasized that it preserved a round of spending cuts negotiated two years ago with Obama and Democrats. As a result, he said, "government spending has declined for two years in a row" for the first time since the Korean War. "And we're not going back on this agreement," he added.

Only a temporary truce, the measure set a time frame of early next winter for the next likely clash between Obama and the Republicans over spending and borrowing.

But for now, government was lurching back to life. In one example, officials met to discuss plans for gearing back up at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where 307 employees remained at work during the partial shutdown and more than 8,000 were furloughed.

After weeks of gridlock, the measure had support from the White House, most if not all Democrats in Congress and many Republicans fearful of the economic impact of a default.

Boehner and the rest of the top GOP leadership told their rank and file they would vote for the measure, and there was little or no doubt it would pass both houses and reach the White House in time for Obama's signature before the administration's 11:59 p.m. Oct. 17 deadline.

That was when Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the government would reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and could no longer borrow to meet its obligations.

Tea party-aligned lawmakers who triggered the shutdown that began on Oct. 1 said they would vote against the legislation. Significantly, though, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others agreed not to use the Senate's cumbersome 18th-century rules to slow the bill's progress.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Cruz said the measure was "a terrible deal" and criticized fellow Republicans for lining up behind it.

McConnell made no mention of the polls showing that the shutdown and flirtation with default have sent Republicans' public approval plummeting and have left the party badly split nationally as well as in his home state of Kentucky. He received a prompt reminder, though.

"When the stakes are highest Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out conservatives," said Matt Bevin, who is challenging the party leader from the right in a 2014 election primary.

More broadly, national tea party groups and their allies underscored the internal divide. The Club for Growth urged lawmakers to vote against the congressional measure, and said it would factor in the organization's decision when it decides which candidates to support in midterm elections next year.

"There are no significant changes to Obamacare, nothing on the other major entitlements that are racked with trillions in unfunded liabilities, and no meaningful spending cuts either. If this bill passes, Congress will kick the can down the road, yet again," the group said.

Even so, support for Boehner appeared solid inside his fractious rank and file. "There are no plots, plans or rumblings that I know of. And I was part of one in January, so I'd probably be on the whip list for that," said Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of the bill.

Simplicity at the end, there was next to nothing in the agreement beyond authorization for the Treasury to resume borrowing and funding for the government to reopen.

House and Senate negotiators are to meet this fall to see if progress is possible on a broad deficit-reduction compromise of the type that has proved elusive in the current era of divided government.

Additionally, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is to be required to produce a report stating that her agency is capable of verifying the incomes of individuals who apply for federal subsidies under the health care law known as Obamacare.

Obama had insisted repeatedly he would not pay "ransom" by yielding to Republican demands for significant changes to the health care overhaul in exchange for funding the government and permitting Treasury the borrowing latitude to pay the nation's bills.

Other issues fell by the wayside in a final deal, including a Republican proposal for the suspension of a medical device tax in Obamacare and a Democratic call to delay a fee on companies for everyone who receives health coverage under an employer-sponsored plan.

The gradual withering of Republicans' Obamacare-related demands defined the arc of the struggle that has occupied virtually all of Congress' time for the past three weeks.

The shutdown began on Oct. 1 after Cruz and his tea party allies in the House demanded the defunding of the health care law as a trade for providing essential government funding.

Obama and Reid refused, then refused again and again as Boehner gradually scaled back Republican demands.

The shutdown initially idled about 800,000 workers, but that soon fell to about 350,000 after Congress agreed to let furloughed Pentagon employees return to work. While there was widespread inconvenience, the mail was delivered, Medicare continued to pay doctors who treated seniors and there was no interruption in Social Security benefits.

Still, national parks were closed to the detriment of tourists and local businesses, government research scientists were sent home and Food and Drug Administration inspectors worked only sporadically.

Obama and Boehner both came to the same conclusion - that they would allow the shutdown to persist for two weeks, until it became politically possible to reopen government and address the threat of default at the same time.

As Republican polls sank, Boehner refused to let the House vote on legislation to reopen the entire government, insisting on a piecemeal approach that the White House and Reid rejected as insufficient.

As the Oct. 17 debt-limit deadline approached, there were warnings from European officials as well as Cabinet members and bankers in this country that failure to raise the debt limit invited an economic disaster far worse than the near-meltdown of 2008.

On Tuesday, the Fitch credit rating agency said it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade.

By then, the endgame was underway.

Late last week, Obama met with Boehner and House Republicans at the White House. The session resulted in brief follow-up talks in which GOP aides suggested easing the across-the-board spending cuts in exchange for changes in benefit programs such as making Medicare more expensive for better-off beneficiaries.

After that faltered, Reid and McConnell announced over the weekend they were seeking a deal to solve the crises, and expressed hope they could quickly come to an agreement.

That effort was suspended on Tuesday, a day of suspense in which Boehner made one last stab at a conservatives' solution. When his rank and file refused to coalesce around any proposal, he gave up and McConnell and Reid returned to their labors.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013
Article comment by: Lost already

Over the last couple weeks the GOP has made one thing obvious. They will lose in 2016. It doesnt matter how or who spins the story. The polls all place the blame fairly or not on the GOP. Last I read over half the polls hammer the GOP into the dirt. To put it bluntly...GOP's election chances went out the window with the bathwater. Screwed the pooch or any number of ways to say it.

When the party swore to do whatever it took to keep Pres Obamas administration in disarray by bringing to fight on every issue. They counldnt see past their hate and anger to see this was going to backfire on them.

So here they stand....Egg on their faces trying to point fingers at anything wipe off the truth that they have Blown it for the Party.

I hate all Politicians. I truly believe None of them reach the Washington level until they are absolutely corrupt and owned by their interest groups. They will never care about the will of the people. Its all about getting as much wealth and power they can while selling out the country.

One thing I can say is 99 % certain. It may be a longtime before the GOP sits in the big chair again. I hope they figure out that Hate and holding the nation hostage will not work. Im going to keep tabs on how many lose their seats over the next 3-4 yrs. Its going to look like Musical chairs in D.C.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

"Small government is EXACTLY what the Framers intended. Sorry you don't know your history."

Again, you have no idea what the framers intent was, you were not there. And please spare us the David Barton (known and proven liar) quotes.

Why is it you conveniently leave out the fact that Bush the younger doubled the debt he was left and put us nearly 11 trillion in debt?

As always you make me....


Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“…the Tea Party and millions more are re-energized including ME against the tyranny of obama and the other communists.”

Laughingly the pathetically named TEA Party is all but dead (thank God) and Canada (aka Rafael) Ted is almost single-handedly responsible. But he did okay pulling off his self-aggrandizing scam that put over a million dollars in his pocket.

It is fascinating how anyone can support the actions of Canada (aka Rafael) Ted and his minions for their – literally – tossing $24 billion-plus straight into the toilet, while claiming to be “fiscal conservatives.”

“And then those ongoing oversight committees, largely ignored but ongoing.”

Ignored because they are total jokes and nothing more than a waste of time and money.

“You will know the winners by why gets attacked. That will be Cruz, Lee and the Tea Party.”

Winners? You mean the never-ending clown show that has cost us billions of dollars and the near destruction of our economy. Talk about a warped view of “winners!”

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Fox Hound:

Small government is EXACTLY what the Framers intended. Sorry you don't know your history.

Nor with Bush. It is obama who, in the first three years, has put us into one third of the 17 Trillion debt. That is fact. Why you are incapable of accepting that is hard to understand. Add a few trillion more for obamacare.

The Tea Party has been energized. The hinterland loves Cruz, Lee, Rand. We will take the Senate back.

And as I said on a post that didn't make it on here, we persevered and sequestration, o's baby, which they hate, is STILL IN PLACE AND WILL STAY IN PLACE.

Immigration will go NOWHERE. Gun control will go NOWHERE.

And the truth about Obamacare will be trickling out to become a tsunamai rolling over America. Then you will wonder how you got so taken in by this fox in the White House. Man, has he done a number on you guys.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Conservatives still win.

Sequester. STILL IN TACT, baseline back to 2008 limits. Ooooh, libs hate that one.

Gun control - Out of the picture.
Immigration - Out of the picture.

Any conceived victory - hollow. Buckle your seatbelts for 2014. As Americans finally see the horror of Obamacare, we are going to watch the trainwreck in real time. And then, people who paid no attention before, will be furious. Heritage shows every state, all up double and more per person except for one state.

The system is still broken, no nothing navigators, new regs taller than I am, doubled, tripled premiums, deductibles as high as $8000, job loss, can't keep your own insurance/dr.

After some Congressmen and Senators have taken stands, the Tea Party and millions more are re-energized including ME against the tyranny of obama and the other communists.

And then those ongoing oversight committees, largely ignored but ongoing. As the obama WH drags their feet, the committees slog on. Last night, four hour meeting with head of Park Service where they ate his lunch. His docs were subpoened right there since he ignored them for two years about others. Most contentious hearing ever.

You will know the winners by why gets attacked. That will be Cruz, Lee and the Tea Party.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Harris

Being a news junkie, I must say the article is an excellent rundown of the events. Thanks, Miner.

Now, for analysis. Without a doubt the Tea Party is to blame. Closely behind is Boehner. The Tea Party, this faction of the Republican party (yoohoo our own Gosar) refuses to "play by the rules". They are a gang that insists on bullying, threatening and yes, holding hostages. They are so convinced of their positions they refuse to even hear others. They lack the sophistication to understand that at that level of our political system they would accomplish much more by holding open meetings and inviting (instead of threatening) representatives to join their side. Boehner offers weak leadership at a time when strong and smart Republican leadership is required. From the very start of his dealing with the Tea Party back in 2012 he has allowed them to wag the dog

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Dennis Jablonski

Congress as a whole has been doing a lousy job in Washington. I am tempted to 'vote out all the incumbents'. But caution reminds me that the cure might be worse than the disease. I intend to stay in touch with my elected representatives, and hold them accountable for how they think and what they do.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Kingmanmom .

Get the responsible Republicans out of office. Because this will happen again in a few months. We the People are tired of this!

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

The Speaker made the statement that we fought the good fight. I would disagree of course to me they fought a stupid fight they had no chance to win. The rightwing has one idea and that is to cut all taxes and make govt. as small as possible. Do most of you think that that is what our forefathers intended when they gave us the constitution, that has provisions in it to make changes as they are needed. To call yourself a patriot because you want to shut down the govt. seems a tad crazy to me. The Republicans have a lot of nerve and no memory. Who was it that brought the US economy to the brink. Oh yeah, I remember it was the criminal Bush administration. If there ideas worked so well, why did it cause the biggest crash since the Great Depression? Its time to do the work of the people but I won't hold my breath.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: Trained observer

Quit funding oil companies and going to war and we have no budget problems. This temper tantrum by the GOP did nothing except put a resolution off. They did nothing except endanger the recovery, and make people nervous about paying their bills. Oh and make AZ loose lots of tourist dollars. Where did you get this nifty photo of (delete) as he looks about 12 years old. Or just someone at the office who was Photoshop happy?

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Article comment by: A Serious Thought

There you have it, "A House of Representatives stenographer was dragged off the floor". Is it coincidental that it was right after "Cruz's" speech. I think not.

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

You have to admit Canada (aka Rafael) Ted really pulled off a coup d'état. Let’s look at the demands put forward by Lil Teddy and the TeaPublicans (in multiple bills) over the past 15 days and the ones they got.
Defund Obamacare – Nope
Delay Obamacare – Nope
Delay the Individual Mandate – Nope
Deny Health Care Coverage to the President – Nope
Deny Healthcare Coverage to the Cabinet – Nope
Deny Healthcare Coverage to Congressional Staffers – Nope
Approve the Keystone Pipeline – Nope
Means-Testing for Medicare – Nope
Change Federal Employee Pensions – Nope
Expand Oil Drilling – Nope
Block Net Neutrality – Nope
Tort Reform – Nope
Weaken Regulations for Coal-fired Power Plants – Nope
Tax Code Changes – Nope
Thwart EPA Coal-ash Regulations – Nope
Repeal Medical Device Tax – Nope
Change Rules on Debt Ceiling - Nope

Cost – so far – to the nation - $27 billion.

Canada (aka Rafael) Ted puts over a million dollars in his pocket – YEP!

And we get to it all over again in just a few months. Gotta love the TeaPublicans – dumber than a box of Palins and not long for this world.


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