Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have finally hammered out what seems to be a viable deal both to fund the government and raise the nation’s debt limit, opening up the potential to end the government shutdown and pull the country back from the brink of default.
The plan will only work if House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) agrees to take it to the House floor for a vote; there, an estimated 30-50 Republicans would surely vote against it, but it would garner enough bipartisan support to pass.
Details of the plan are still emerging, but Politico reports that it will likely include funding the government through January 15, and raising the debt limit through February 7th. It would keep in place the the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, but would give government agencies flexibility in how they cut funding.
January 15, 2014 is also the date when sequestration will bring more austerity to government programs in the form of an additional $21 billion in cuts.
The deal also apparently sets up further budget negotiations (which in all likelihood would mean more cuts), to be figured out by a bipartisan group made up of both Senators and Representatives. Their proposal would need to be completed by December 13th.
One major concessions both to Republicans and to many of the country’s labor unions would be that a $63 fee on insurance plans — meant to raise revenue and reduce risk for insurers taking on patients with pre-existing conditions — would be delayed. Repealing the medical device tax, which was floated as a potential point of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, has beenpushed aside during this round of talks.