The government reopened yesterday and a debt ceiling crisis was averted after a last-minute deal was approved by the House and signed by the president.
In recent days the pressure had intensified on Congress to act to avoid a government default before October 17 and end the Government shutdown.
Wednesday night, the Senate (81-18) and the House (285-144) approved and the President quickly signed the bill (H.R. 2775). The deal was hammered out by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Reid and McConnell acted after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was unable to get his party’s caucus to agree to a bill that would pass in the House and be acceptable to the Senate and the president.
In announcing the deal, Sen. Reid said “The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs.” Referencing the often acrimonious debate that preceded the agreement and expressing some hope that Congress will now be able to move forward, Sen. McConnell said “It’s my hope that today we can put some of the most urgent issues behind us.”
The bill suspends the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014 and includes a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government essentially at the FY2013 level until January 15.
The CR also includes language that requires income verification for people applying for health care subsidies and authorizes retroactive pay for furloughed employees.
Also, by remaining silent on the federal civilian pay raise, the bill seemingly clears the way for a 1 percent pay increase in January if the president issues an executive order implementing the raise and Congress take no further action.
The deal also establishes a House-Senate conference committee, (headed by Budget Committee chairs Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)) that must report back to Congress by December 13, 2013 on a 10-year plan for taxes and spending that would replace automatic sequestration. Unless sequestration is replaced, some $90 billion in across-the-board cuts for FY2014 will go into effect in mid-January.