Senate leaders announce deal to end shutdown and avoid default
By Michael O'Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News
the brink of a national default, the leaders of the Senate struck a
deal Wednesday to reopen the federal government and extend its power to
borrow money. The House appeared ready to go along — and end, at least
for now, the crisis in Washington.
Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic
leader, said on the Senate floor at midday that his party and
Republicans had found their way to a compromise to "provide our economy
with the stability it desperately needs" and avert financial disaster.
Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell, offered his blessing:
"This is far less than many of us had hoped for, frankly, but is far
better than what some had sought."
The compromise would fund the federal government through Jan. 15 and
extend the borrowing power, known as the debt ceiling, through Feb. 7.
It also calls for an agreement by mid-December on a long-term budget
While it raises the specter of further fights to come, the
compromise at least puts an end a government shutdown that has dragged
on for 16 days, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay and
doubtless hurting the delicate U.S. economy.
It also comes one
day before the deadline at which the Treasury warned that it would be
running dangerously low on money and running the risk of a default on
government bond payments — an outcome that economists said would have
Removing a final obstacle in his chamber, Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas
Republican who carried the banner for conservatives into the government
shutdown, said he would not block the deal.
The White House
commended the Senate for its leadership, but Jay Carney, the press
secretary, was quick to remind reporters of the economic damage already
"There are no winners here," he said. "The American people
have paid a price for this. And nobody who's sent here to Washington by
the American people can call themselves a winner if the American people
have paid a price for what's happened."
The stock market, sensing an agreement, rallied Wednesday from the opening bell. The Dow Jones industrial average soared more than 200 points, and other indexes approached all-time highs.
bond investors signaled they were less worried, too. Yields on
short-term government debt, even loans coming due next week, fell
sharply, a sign that investors felt surer that they would get their
Sources told NBC News that the Senate would likely
pass the bill first, probably Wednesday evening. The sources said that
they expected some Republican senators to vote yes, offering some
political cover for Republicans in the House.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave a nod to bipartisanship but was in no mood to celebrate.
think it's obvious that we are now seeing the end of this agonizing
odyssey that this body has been put through, but far more importantly
the American people have been put through," he said on the Senate floor.
"It's one of the more shameful chapters that I have seen in the years
that I have spent here in the Senate."
The timing for a vote in the House was unclear, but House Republicans were expected to meet in the afternoon.
told NBC News earlier in the day that John Boehner, the Republican
speaker of the House, would allow a vote on the compromise — suggesting
it would pass with overwhelming Democratic support and just enough
Republicans to win a majority.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader,
guaranteed the bill's passage in an interview on the MSNBC program
"Andrea Mitchell Reports." She said the vote in the House could come
within hours or Thursday morning.
"We're going to pass it," she
said. "It's going to pass in the Senate. We're going to pass it in the
House. I can't believe that many Republicans will vote against opening
government and lifting the debt ceiling, but we'll see."
Tuesday, momentum toward a deal stalled when Boehner failed to come up
with any plan that could satisfy his own Republican membership.
Conservatives had demanded significant changes to the health law known
Throughout the past month's fiscal showdown, Boehner
had insisted on advancing legislation with only Republican votes —
often forcing him to draft deeply conservative legislation that had no
chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
laid bare many of the dividing lines that have plagued the House
Republicans for the past two and a half years, and ceded leverage in the
spending fight to the Senate and Democrats who control that chamber.