Congress reaches a budget deal, Obama signs


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congress passed a bill to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling on Oct. 16 after two weeks of negotiation. The bill will keep the government open until Jan. 15 and allow the United States to continue borrowing money until Feb. 7. The Senate-drafted bill passed 81-18 in the Senate and 285-144 in the House, reported USA Today. All opposition came from Republicans.

According to an Associated Press timeline published by ABC News, the House GOP attempted to use the threat of the coming shutdown to dent Obamacare, but the Democratic Senate rejected each attempt.  Those attempts included defunding the law, repealing a medical device tax, and delaying the individual mandate for a year.  When no agreements could be reached, the shutdown that would result in billions over federal dollars lost occured Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year.

“We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner said in a radio interview on 700WLW.

The Affordable Care Act demands that staff and Congress members leave government-sponsored Federal Employment Health Benefits Program to buy insurance. “But the Obama administration ruled they can still get taxpayer money to cover up to 75% of their premiums,” the Washington Times revealed.

Photo from the Huffington Post.

In an interview with MSNBC on Oct. 8, Wisconsin congressman Sean Duffy (R) said that the GOP wanted President Obama, his family, and his administration to join Obamacare along with Congress and the American people.  He also said the GOP wanted to include individuals and families in the “one-year exemption… in regard to taxes and penalties in Obamacare” already in place for big businesses.

According to CNN, the only Obamacare-related provision in the final bill is that the government is required to check the eligibility of those receiving subsides under Obamacare.

The resolution produced positive effects on the US economy, including a 1.4 percent increase in the Dow, gains in Asian stocks and bonds and an increase in the value of the dollar.

The US Treasury felt that, prior to the deal on Wednesday, it was a day away from being unable to “pay national obligations," the New York Times reported.

As the shutdown progressed, political pundits debated the effect breaching the debt ceiling would have on the US economy. The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins argued in an article published Oct. 8 that after hitting the debt ceiling, the US Treasury’s electronic payment system would prevent the Treasury from being able to prioritize mandatory spending.

That same day, in a reaction to President Obama’s speech, Rush Limbaugh argued on his radio show that the monthly tax revenue the government receives would be enough to pay interest on the debt and avoid a default. Limbaugh also pointed out that in 2006 and 2007, then-Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling.

With the debt ceiling raised, the national debt has now surpassed seventeen trillion.

King’s students speculate the significance of the deal and wonder how high the debt ceiling can actually be raised.

Alex Price (‘16) finds the deal problematic because it is temporary.  He believes that the shutdown was “a byproduct of the divide” between the two parties, a divide so big that “someone needs to step in” and change it before anything significant can get done.

Jonny Lile (‘15) speculates if it would have been better if the deal had not gone through so “the Republicans could prove a point” instead of being where they are now politically.  He thinks breaching the debt ceiling “would have been a wake-up call” about how much we’re kicking the can down the road.

Annie Smith (‘17) asks, “If we keep raising the debt ceiling, when will it stop?”

Congress will soon be back at the negotiation table to address other financial matters. Obama said he thinks Washington needs to "get out of the habit of governing by crisis" and that he hopes “next time, it will not be the eleventh hour.”