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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Washington (AFP) – The United States was spared the ignominy of a disastrous debt default Wednesday when Congress passed a bill extending the nation’s borrowing authority and ending a two-week government shutdown.

After weeks of tumultuous debate, the measure passed first with less than two hours to run until October 17, the date from which the Treasury had warned it might not be able to pay its bills.

The last-gasp plan will stave off the most pressing crisis by extending the U.S. Treasury’s borrowing authority until February 7.

Lawmakers also reached agreement on re-opening shuttered federal agencies, bringing hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees back to work and funding government through January 15.

Even before the acrimonious battle reached its finish with the House vote, President Barack Obama said he would sign the bill “immediately” as he sought to heal the wounds caused by the showdown.

But he also warned that Washington must stop governing by crisis.

U.S. leaders needed to “earn back” the trust of the American people in the aftermath of the crisis, Obama said.

“We’ll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.”

The administration’s budget director Sylvia Burwell said “employees should expect to return to work in the morning.”

With a bitterly divided Congress locked in stalemate for a month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid worked behind closed doors with his Republican rival Senator Mitch McConnell to craft the compromise that had eluded Washington.

“The bipartisan senate rose to the occasion and broke this deadlock,” number two Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said.

The mood from many House Republicans was a begrudging acceptance of a deal many of them felt failed to address their desire to rein in outsized federal spending and roll back the president’s health care law known as “Obamacare.”

House Budget chairman Paul Ryan, who voted against the bill, called it a “missed opportunity.”

“Today’s legislation won’t help us reduce our fast-growing debt,” he said. “In my judgment, this isn’t a breakthrough. We’re just kicking the can down the road.”

While the deal was welcomed on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500 index up almost 1.4 percent, the signs of a close-to-humiliating, last-minute bid to avert possible global economic turmoil were plain to see.

The International Monetary Fund’s managing director Christine Lagarde, who over the past week had pleaded with U.S. lawmakers to come to their senses, praised them for taking the “necessary step” of lifting the debt ceiling.

“Looking forward, it will be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner,” she said.

After the agreement was unveiled, House speaker John Boehner bowed to the inevitable and admitted there were “no reasons” to vote against the bill, while maintaining that Republicans didn’t like its terms.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Sand_Cat

    FINALLY! Someone actually stood up to the a$$holes! Well, sort of. Actually, the can got kicked down the road yet again, but maybe that’s just the Dems’ way of assuring the voters don’t forget who the crazy people really are.

  • Dominick Vila

    The damage done to our economy by those who claim to be determined to reduce spending, estimated by S&P at $24B, and the damage done to our international credibility, which produced threats of further reductions in our credit rating and a small increase in interest rates that will cost us an extra $15B a year, was totally unnecessary and, obviously, counter productive.
    It would be easy to say that the Tea Party will take a hit next year, but that is only true at a national level (presidential elections). The sad truth most of the Republicans that voted with Democrats to reopen the government and avoid default, are likely to lose their primaries and will, very likely, be replaced with radical Tea Party zealots similar to Cruz, Lee, and the 146 House representatives that voted against the bill that finally passed last night.
    I think that it is also important to remember that the GOP managed to extract fiscal concessions that, for some reason, have gotten little attention in the media. The President proposed a $1.3T budget for FY14. The GOP offered $690B. The temporary CR that passed both chambers of Congress last nigh appropriates $680B (I can’t remember the exact figures).
    Unfortunately for the GOP, their constituents in the South and the Bible Belt are more interested in reducing entitlement spending (Social Security and MEDICARE), dismantling ACA, banning abortion, eliminating affirmative action, home schooling, eliminating welfare in its entirety, and other such issues than fiscal matters, which is just a façade designed to give an impression of sobriety and legitimacy where none exists.
    The GOP overreached on ACA and anticipated greater support from mainstream Americans, and they caused tremendous damage to our recovering economy and our international credibility by threatening default. It will be a very long time before they win a presidential election…regardless of how many hanging or pregnant chads they come up with.

    • TZToronto

      Perhaps we should take a look at another country with political zealots whose sole purpose is (was) to destroy the country, to split it into pieces, kind of like what the Tea Party wants. Canada was, for a number of years, plagued by the Bloc Quebecois, a separatist party that existed only in Quebec. Their goal was to establish an independent Quebec, free from the restrictions placed on that province by the federal government. (Imagine having a party in Congress whose stated purpose was to break up the USA!) It took a while, but the people of Quebec, after voting in a large numbers of Bloc members of Parliament for several federal elections, all but abandoned the Bloc in the last federal election, sending 57 NDP (socialist) members to Ottawa and only four Bloc members. At some point, the people who are supporting the “separatist” Tea Partiers will tire of the ultimate lack of power and the futility of these obstructionists/seditionists and move back to supporting people who are actually working for the country instead of the Confederacy.

  • docb

    President and the Dems in Congress did this for the people!..

    The repub bagger grifters and pimps for corporations DID NOTHING but take $24 Billion out of our economy and hurt real people in AMerica and around the World! They will be removed.