State Net Capitol Journal: Federal Fiscal Crisis Over - For Now

State Net Capitol Journal: Federal Fiscal Crisis Over - For Now

Last week, 16 days into the federal government shutdown and only hours away from a possible federal default with potentially global economic repercussions, Congress passed and President Obama signed an agreement ending the fiscal crisis. 
 
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced the deal on the Senate floor last Wednesday after the House failed to come up with its own proposal. And the Senate deal's approval was eased when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the tea party-backed Republicans who'd initially forced the government shutdown by bringing the Affordable Care Act into the negotiations over government funding, said he would not use procedural moves to delay a vote. 
 
"I have no objections to the timing and the reason is simple," Cruz said. "There's nothing to be gained from delaying this vote one day or two days." 
 
The Senate proceeded to pass its bipartisan bill 81 to 18, and the House followed suit a few hours later, with a 285 to 144 vote. The president signed the measure early Thursday. 
 
In exchange for the beating they took for their part in the standoff, Republicans gained relatively little: a slight tightening of the income verification requirements for individuals seeking insurance subsidies under the ACA. They also got a promise that bipartisan talks would be held on long-term tax and spending policies, but Obama had said throughout the standoff he was willing to do that once the government was reopened and the debt ceiling raised. 
 
Consequently, many Republicans conceded defeat. 
 
"We fought the good fight," said Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in an interview with a Cincinnati radio station. "We just didn't win." 
 
"Goose egg, nothing, we got nothing," said Representative Thomas H. Massie (R-Kentucky). 
 
But some tea-party Republicans were less contrite. 
 
"Unfortunately, the Washington establishment is failing to listen to the American people," said Sen. Cruz as he was leaving a meeting of his caucus called to ratify the agreement. 
 
U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana), meanwhile, considered the outcome of the two-week standoff an acceptable "stalemate." Republicans failed to delay or defund Obamacare, he said, but Democrats didn't succeed in rolling back the sequestration cuts they oppose either. 
 
And U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said Republicans had "lost the battle, but we're going to win the war." 
 
It was just that sentiment of never-ending conflict that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) decried last Thursday, saying "fighting has replaced serving the people as the top priority in Washington." 
 
"This is a fundamental failure of our political culture," he said in a statement. "If the shutdown had continued and the nation gone into default, the people in need are the ones who would have paid the highest price."  
 
With last week's agreement only funding the federal government through mid-January and raising the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, the next battle of the war in Washington could come as soon as early next year. 
 
"All this does is delay this fight four months," said U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama). (NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, YAHOO NEWS, MLIVE.COM) 

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