After two weeks of false starts and Republican infighting, Congress finally voted late Wednesday night to end the first government shutdown in 17 years and to avert a default on U.S. debt.
But the deal brokered at the last minute between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell does little besides setting up more budgetary battles: government funding runs dry, once again, in January, and the borrowing limit must be lifted in February.
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The final act of the shutdown saga began in the Senate, with 81 senators voting yes, and 18 voting against the compromise negotiated by the chamber’s leaders. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, voted against the bill, as did prominent GOP senators such as Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas.
The House then moved to clear the legislation 285-144, relying mostly on Democratic votes in the Republican controlled chamber. Just 87 Republicans supported the bill while 198 Democrats voted for it. The bill was opposed by 144 Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
Once again, Speaker John Boehner had to rely on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Caucus to carry the bill to passage. It’s a clear violation of the much-talked-about Hastert Rule, a mantra that the House speaker should not bring legislation to the floor without the support of a “majority of the majority” of his members. The fiscal cliff legislation and relief for Hurricane Sandy passed with mostly Democratic votes, as well.And then there is this:
The legislation also includes a McConnell-written proposal that would allow Congress to disapprove of the debt-ceiling increase. Lawmakers will formally vote on rejecting the bump of the borrowing limit - if it passed, it could be vetoed by Obama.
The deal would also deliver back pay to furloughed federal workers, require a study of income verification for people seeking health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and also allows the Treasury Department to use extraordinary measures to pay the nation’s bills if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling in a timely fashion.What are those extraordinary measures, I wonder.
Fox News reported that "In the end, Obama mostly got what he wanted out of the package, with a relatively clean funding bill and debt-cap increase, albeit a shorter-term one than Democrats wanted."
McConnell didn't let a crises go to waste. The bill contains $3 billion of pork for Kentucky.
Weasel Zippers has a list of the Republican House members that voted with the Democrats.
Update (Oct. 20, 2013): A couple of op-ed pieces at Fox News also noting the role of establishment Republicans (RINOs) in this fiasco. (Here and here).