After more than two weeks of paralysis and a threatened default, the government may zip back into action now that a deal has apparently been reached between the Senate leaders, and that also portends agreement from the recalcitrant House of Representatives.
“This is a time for reconciliation,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the press about the agreement with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. While Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who led the tea party resistance, said he would oppose the plan, he promised not to press for any delays as he has done so fervently with Obamacare.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama applauded the agreement but advised that there were “no winners.” “The president applauds Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell for working together to forge this compromise and encourages the Congress to act swiftly to end this shutdown and protect the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” Carney said.
Even so, the president expressed no optimism that the agreement would pass the House. “We’re not putting odds on anything,” he said.
With a midnight deadline looming, Obama is poised to sign the bill into law, which will raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit. The bill, according to officials familiar with it, will give the Treasury the authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government will reopen through Jan. 15, propitiously on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
It’s to be seen how and when the House will vote and what impact in the long run it will have on the status of Speaker John Boehner, who had refused to call for a vote, claiming he didn’t have the numbers to pass it. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has promised to get behind the plan and encourage her colleagues to support it.
As for Obamacare, there was only one modest change, which requires individuals and families seeking subsidies to purchase coverage to verify their incomes before qualifying; otherwise, the act is untouched.
Boehner, like a barbarian at the gate, was reluctant to call for a vote when it was increasingly clear that the numbers were there two weeks ago to approve the plan. Now he’s in an even more precarious position, and there may be further repercussions on the horizon during the midterm elections.
But now that a short-term compromise has been met, the nation can exhale. Another fiscal cliff has been averted, and we can wait to see what looms beyond February.