CAPITOL HILL —
The U.S. Congress is one step closer to reopening the U.S. government and extending the nation’s credit limit. The Senate voted 81 to 18 to end a fiscal impasse that has taken America perilously close to devastating debt default.
Negotiated by Senate leaders, the bill restarts federal government funding and raises the U.S. debt ceiling into February. It also mandates budget negotiations to arrive at a longer-term fiscal accord.
Senators of both parties expressed relief that an 11th-hour deal had materialized, while bemoaning the bitter partisan stand-off that preceded it. Democrat Mark Warner:
“We have inflicted damage on our economy and our reputation. We have violated the first principle of governing or of medicine: 'do no harm.' This self-inflicted crisis has done harm even if we reopen the government and avoid default," said Warner.
With the clock ticking toward Thursday’s debt ceiling deadline, senators refrained from any procedural motions that would have delayed a final vote on the bill. Republican Ted Cruz did not stand in the way of Senate action, but called the bill a bad deal for America.
“It allows yet more debt, more deficits, more spending. And it does absolutely nothing to provide relief for the millions of Americans who are hurting because of Obamacare," said Cruz.
Wednesday’s accord was a defeat for Cruz and other Tea Party Republicans who had sought to use fiscal deadlines as leverage to derail President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The bill now goes to the Republican-led House, where moderate Republicans are expected to join with Democrats to pass the measure and send it to the White House for the president’s signature.