Sen. Harry Reid: Compromise reached to reopen government
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced a bipartisan deal Wednesday to raise the U.S. debt limit and end the government shutdown.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who had earlier opposed any compromise unless it defunded Obamacare, said he does not intend to delay consideration of the measure, which is expected to be approved later in the day by the Republican-led House of Representatives.
Some sources have indicated the deal would reopen the government through Jan. 15. It would also authorize borrowing by the government through Feb. 7.
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Both Democrats and Republicans are confident that the U.S. House of Representatives will have enough votes on Wednesday to pass an emerging bipartisan Senate plan to raise the U.S. debt limit and reopen the government, a top Democratic aide said.
Aides to House Speaker John Boehner called senior Senate staff earlier in the day to say the House would vote first on the measure, the aide said, adding that it appears certain to be approved with mostly Democratic votes.
Senate Republican leaders met Wednesday morning, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., was quoted by CNN.com that a deal to reopen the government and avoid a possible U.S. default could be announced soon.
The stock market is anticipating a deal. Reuters is reporting that major U.S. stock indexes hit session highs Wednesday morning, reflecting optimism for a plan emerging in the Democratic-led Senate to raise the U.S. debt limit and end the government shutdown that will be passed in the Republican-led House of Representatives.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 193.43 points, or 1.28 percent, to 15,361.44, the S&P 500 gained 22.51 points, or 1.33 percent, to 1,720.57 and the Nasdaq Composite added 44.271 points, or 1.17 percent, to 3,838.281.
Efforts to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the federal government were jolted Tuesday when the House canceled a planned vote, according to U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
"The House can't pass anything," Ayotte said Tuesday night. "What has been most disappointing is that the House can't even act."
Late Tuesday night, leaders in the Senate reopened negotiations toward a deal to end the shutdown.
Ayotte, a Republican, has played a key role in negotiations as a member of a group of 12 senators trying to find middle ground and as a co-host — along with fellow New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat — of an informal meeting of women in the Senate last week. Ayotte's efforts were featured in articles Tuesday in the New York Times and Washington Post.
"Where we are right now is totally unacceptable," she said. "If the leadership can't come to an agreement, then the rest of us need to step up and try to get something done. This is too important."
Shaheen was also quoted Tuesday in media reports as saying she was disappointed in the House's inability to pass a bill for the Senate to consider.
Earlier this month, Ayotte gave a speech on the Senate floor deriding members of her party for adopting what she called "an ill-conceived strategy" to refuse to pass a spending bill without measures to defund President Barack Obama's signature health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. She said House Republicans and some Senate Republicans needed "a reality check."
Ayotte said she has since worked to bridge bipartisan cooperation, such as last week's informal event — pizza was served, she said — which was attended by most of the Senate's female members.
"We hosted it just to try to bring people together," she said.
She called on Obama to be a stronger voice on the issue. Obama has refused any efforts to tie government spending to the health care law and has repeatedly said House Republicans are holding the country hostage by not passing a "clean" spending resolution that doesn't gut Obamacare.
"I expect the President to lead on this. He needs to step forward and not be passive, because this is too important for the country," she said.
She said she holds out hope that something will be done in time to avoid a default on U.S. obligations — the Treasury Department has said it will run out of money on Thursday — and to end the government shutdown, which began Oct. 1.
"I think it's incumbent on people to get together and come up with something," she said. "What I have been trying to do is talk to people on both sides of the aisle to drive an agreement so we can resolve this for the American people."