WASHINGTON - Senate leaders today jointly announced an agreement on a bipartisan proposal to raise the nation’s debt limit and end the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Congress is expected to approve the package, which would prevent an economically dangerous U.S. default.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., revealed the agreement shortly after the Senate session began.
“The eyes of the world have been on Washington all this week,“ Reid said. “Today, they will also see Congress reaching a historic bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and avert a default on the nation’s bills. The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs.“
McConnell said he was “confident“ both those goals would be reached Wednesday.
“It has been a long, challenging few weeks for Congress and for the country,“ he said. “It is my hope that today we can put some of those most urgent issues behind us.“
Votes in the House and Senate were expected, but the schedule remained in flux. The Republican-led House may move first. A filibuster in the Senate was unlikely as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, indicated that he would not hold up the package.
Cruz was one of the leaders of a group of Republicans who had demanded a halt or delay in President Obama’s healthcare law in exchange for a bill to keep the government running.
Passage of the Senate proposal by Congress could send the legislation to President Obama’s desk but it was unclear if that would happen by Thursday’s deadline to lift the nation’s borrowing capacity.
Experts have said that as long as passage is expected, the nation would likely not risk a debt default.
The proposal makes no substantial changes to the president’s healthcare law, which Republicans had hoped to stop or stall by using the budget crisis as leverage.
A minor provision on the healthcare law was included in the legislation, requiring those Americans who purchase insurance on the new healthcare exchanges to verify their income.
The agreement would allow the government to continue borrowing to pay its bills through Feb. 7 and would provide funding to reopen the government and keep it running through Jan. 15.
Congress would need to draft a new agreement at that time to avoid another budget crisis.