McConnell confident agreement will re-open government and prevent default 'later today'

10/16/2013 12:20 PM

Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell emerged as a co-broker of the deal Wednesday to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling.

The deal between McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada came together Wednesday morning and the two Senate leaders announced it on the U.S. Senate floor shortly after noon. Under the plan, the government would be funded through Jan. 15, and the debt ceiling would be lifted through Feb. 7. The plan also calls for a bicameral budget committee to make long-term spending reforms in conference report by Dec. 13.

What the proposal does not do is defund the Affordable Care Act, an issue that led to the shutdown 16 days ago. The agreement does, however, require income verification for those seeking subsidized insurance through the Affordable Care Act. That concession from Democrats is far less than what House Republicans were pushing for.

McConnell acknowledged this concern in his remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate, saying the rough roll-out of the health exchanges nationwide is an indicator of bad things to come from the Affordable Care Act. Republicans are still determined to fight the law but it was time to focus on the fiscal issues in front of them, he said.

“But for today, the relief we hope for is to reopen the government, avoid default, and protect the historic cuts we achieved under the (Budget Control Act),” McConnell said in his remarks. “This is far less than many of us had hoped for. But it’s far better than what some had sought. Now it’s time for Republicans to unite behind our other crucial goals.”

See McConnell’s full remarks here:

Reid praised McConnell’s cooperation to reach an agreement that the two believe can pass both chambers of Congress — a deal Reid called a “historic bi-partisan agreement.”

“I thank the Republican leader for his diligent efforts to reach this important agreement,” Reid said on the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday. “The Republican leader’s cooperation was essential in reaching an accord that could pass both chambers of Congress and also be signed by President Obama.”

After the agreement was announced in the Senate, White House press secretary Jay Carney also announced that the president would support the deal.

During the negotiations over the last five days, McConnell pushed to protect the levels of spending cuts that were put forth in the “sequester” that was part of the last deal McConnell helped broker to raise the debt ceiling in August 2011. McConnell said those cuts are a major step in getting the country’s fiscal house in order.

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