With just one day to go before the deadline to raise the debt limit, the Senate leaders announced an agreement to finally resolve the latest fiscal crisis in Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., both came to the floor Wednesday to announce the agreement on the sixteenth day of the government shutdown.
Reid said the agreement would fund the government through January 15th and extend the debt limit through February 7th.
Additionally, the legislation includes instructions for the Congressional leadership to name conferees to a budget conference committee.
"The members selected must have open minds willing to consider every option, no matter how painful to their own political party," Reid said.
He added, "This conference committee, led by Chairman Murray and Chairman Ryan, which will produce its negotiated budget resolution in December, is the appropriate place to discuss our differing views of the best way to chart a course for economic growth."
According to media reports, the agreement also includes a provision to strengthen income verification measures for government subsidies under Obamacare.
Reid described the deal as a "historic, bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and avert a default on the nation's bills."
"It's never easy for two sides at odds to reach consensus," Reid said. "After weeks spent facing off across a partisan divide that often seemed too wide to cross, our country came to the brink of a disaster.
He added, "But in the end, political adversaries set aside their differences and disagreements to prevent that disaster."
In separate remarks regarding the agreement, McConnell focused on the fact that the legislation would protect the spending reductions included in the Budget Control Act.
McConnell said it was a top priority for Republicans to maintain the spending cuts in the Budget Control Act, which established the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.
"What the BCA showed is that Washington can cut spending. And because of this law, that's just what we've done," McConnell said. "And we're not going back on this agreement."
"There is a lot more we need to do to get our nation's fiscal house in order," he added. "Hopefully, once we've gotten past the drama of the moment we can get to work on it. But for now, let's not understate the importance of the BCA, or the importance of the fight to preserve it."
With the agreement in the Senate, the focus now shifts back to the House. While some lawmakers have expressed optimism that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will bring the Senate plan up for a vote, a Boehner spokesman said no final decision has been made.
House Republicans are reportedly scheduled to hold a private meeting beginning at 3 p.m. ET to discuss the Senate agreement.
Tuesday night, Boehner canceled a vote on a separate Republican proposal when it became apparent that he would not be able to get enough votes.
As a result of the ongoing debate on Capitol Hill, Fitch Ratings put the U.S. Treasury on Ratings Watch Negative, potentially a first step to a downgrade.
by RTT Staff Writer
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