The dam is breaking today. The two Senate leaders finalized an agreement this morning to reopen the government until Jan. 15 and avert an imminent debt default by giving the Treasury authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7.
The deal was to be announced just after noon on the Senate floor, and was then likely to be sped across the Capitol so that the pivotal vote — both procedurally and politically — can happen first in the House. Speaker John A. Boehner signaled that he would put the package to a vote by the end of the day, but a final decision was awaiting the results of a GOP leadership meeting.
Still, some members of that group predicted the measure would pass the House, with the bloc of combative conservatives who are opposed to almost any realistic fiscal policy patch getting overwhelmed by significant numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.
That outcome would return the deal for a final, climactic vote in the Senate, where the rules would permit Sen. Ted Cruz and other hard-line GOP conservatives only one opportunity for a filibuster. That last-ditch effort would surely prove fruitless, given that the deal had been negotiated by both Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who would be under significant pressure to follow-up his negotiations with a successful effort to get the Cruz coalition to back down and accept defeat relatively quickly.
If Cruz & Co. don’t back down, that would push the final Senate vote past the deadline created by the Treasury, which says that after Wednesday it will have only a relatively small cash reserve of $30 billion available to pay whichever of the nation’s bills come due. The national debt now stands at its legal limit of $16.7 trillion.
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