An end to the government shutdown may be in sight. Earlier today, Senate leaders announced that they have reached a bipartisan agreement to fund the government and extend its borrowing authority into February. Democrats have wanted to pass a "clean" spending bill to continue funding government, but Republicans have linked its passage inextricably to Obamacare, which they oppose. According to The New York Times, today's deal contained few concessions to Republicans on Obamacare, except for some small changes to how incomes are verified under the new health care law. The deal stipulates that the government would be funded through January 15, while the debt ceiling would be raised until February 7.
The deal could meet resistance from some representatives in the Republican-controlled House, though there has been no indication that lawmakers will attempt to halt the deal. For example, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has said that he will oppose, but not block such a plan. The Democratic House Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, said that she and her party will support it. Speaking moments ago, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that President Obama is on board with the Senate deal and "urges Congress to act quickly" to approve it.
An agreement between party leaders in the Senate is still only an agreement, not a vote on legislation. But, it's an important first step in getting the government reopened. Here's how the process would potentially go down: The plan is for the Senate to provide the legislative language to the House and then get a House vote to pass it. It would then move over to the Senate. The Senate would pass it and forward it on to the White House for President Obama's approval, perhaps by the end of the day.
An end-of-day resolution is crucial. Tomorrow marks the deadline for a possible default on the government's financial obligations. If the debt ceiling of $16.7 trillion isn't raised, the Treasury can't guarantee that the government will be able to pay its bills.
Some Republicans acknowledged that fighting Obamacare through the spending bill was not tenable. Sen. John McCain said Tuesday, "Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable." Earlier today on the Senate floor, Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said that the health care law was still damaging for the economy and for the American public in general, but "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. This is far less than many of us had hoped for, frankly, but is far better than some had sought.” (NYT)