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Saturday, February 24, 2024

It’s finally over. Congress approves debt, budget deal

Lots of long nights at the Capitol. (AP/Evan Vucci)
Lots of long nights at the Capitol. (AP/Evan Vucci)

After weeks of wrangling, 16 days of partial shutdown, and less less than two hours before the deadline for the government to lose its borrowing authority, Congress approved a last-minute compromise bill that puts the government back to work and allows the U.S. Treasury to continue borrowing money — sending the legislation to President Barack Obama for approval.

By a 285-144 vote, which included 87 Republicans and 198 Democratic members, the House approved the Senate deal in a quick vote,, ending the prolonged and ofter bitter debate for now.  The deal extends the budget approval until January 15 of next year grants an increase to the debt limit until February 7.

All 144 “no” votes in the House came from Republicans.  The ultra-conservative right wing of the party refused to support any deal that did not either severely limit or completely remove funding from Obamacare.

“Tonight, the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress came together around an agreement that will reopen the government and remove the threat of default from our economy,” President Barack Obama said after the Senate approved the deal 81-18 and sent it to the House.

In the end, House Speaker John Boehner ignored the so-called “Hastert Rule,” an official dictum that requires the support of a “majority of the majority” for the Republican leader to even bring a bill to the House floor for a vote.

Boehner had to depend on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to deliber the necessary Democratic votes to pass the bill.

Earlier in the day, Boehner told an Ohio radio station that “we fought the good fight but we did not win.”  When his last-ditch effort to put together a plan failed to get enough support from his own party to even call a vote Tuesday, the Speaker threw in the towel and supported the bipartisan Senate deal, which was worked out by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Boehner could not deliver so we had to depend on Republicans in the Senate to do the right thing,” said a GOP strategist close to Boehner.

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