Co Authored by Omar Franco
Last night Congress voted to end the first federal government shutdown in seventeen years and avert a default on U.S. debt. The deal brokered between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) provides government funding through Jan. 15, 2014, at almost the same rate as in FY-2013 after automatic spending cuts. The debt limit would be extended through Feb. 7, 2014, if requested by President Obama. The legislation includes a mechanism to allow Congress to block the suspension through action on a resolution of disapproval. The Health and Human Services Department would be required to ensure that health-insurance exchanges verify the eligibility of all individuals applying for tax credits and cost sharing under the Affordable Care Act. Federal employees would be paid for furlough days resulting from the shutdown and members of Congress would be denied their cost-of-living increase in FY-2014.
The Senate passed the bill first with 81 senators voting in favor and 18 voting against the compromise. The House then passed the legislation 285-144, relying mostly on Democratic votes to pass the bill. Alongside the bill, the Senate agreed to a provision that House and Senate leaders would appoint a conference committee to negotiate a budget agreement by Dec. 13.