MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With just hours to spare, Congress passed a plan to avoid a default and end a 16 day partial government shutdown.
The votes came in late, but just in time to avoid the crisis. Just after midnight President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.
“There’s a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that’s been lost over the last few weeks,” said President Obama.
The plan, from Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, passed easily in the Senate.
In the House, 144 Republicans voted against it because they said the bill didn’t do enough to limit the president’s health care law. All of Florida’s Democratic representatives voted for it as did Republican representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz Balart, Vern Buchanan, Gus Bilirakis, Daniel Webster and Ander Crenshaw.
“Tonight’s vote will reopen the government and keep spending numbers at current levels until January 15, 2014, giving Congress the opportunity to properly finish the appropriations process and maintain the sequester savings. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact meaningful long term reforms that truly address our spending and debt crises,” said Rep. Mario Diaz Balart in a statement.
“After 16 days of a government shutdown, at long last we figured out a way to put partisan politics aside in order to fund our government and pay our bills so that we can protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement. “Looking ahead, it’s critical that we continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to replace the indiscriminate cuts of the sequester with a balanced plan. We must come together at the negotiating table to work out further compromise. That is what the American people elected us to do, and they are counting on us to do our jobs and figure out ways to make their lives better – so they can buy a house, send their kids to college, save for retirement, and count on a thriving and job-producing economy.”
The agreement funds the government for three months, raises the debt ceiling for four months and calls for immediate long term budget talks. The heads of the budget committees in the House and Senate have 57 days to find a compromise. They’ll begin their negotiations on Thursday.
“The vote tonight will allow patriotic Americans to get back to work and veterans and seniors to receive their Social Security and other benefits in a timely manner,” said Rep. Lois Frankel in a statement. “Now it’s time to focus on long-term solutions that create jobs with fiscally sound budget decisions that reduce waste and invest in infrastructure and education.”
Rep. Ted Deutch was harshly critical of Republicans and said calling this last minute deal a victory for the American people would be “shameful.”
““For over two weeks, a small group of Republican extremists have led our nation through a pointless and irresponsible exercise that in the end left us with billions of dollars in lost economic output and diminished credibility worldwide,” said Deutch in a statement. “We should be working on reasonable solutions that actually address the American people’s economic priorities, from fixing our broken immigration system to growing middle class paychecks to ending tax-havens that reward corporations for moving offshore. Unfortunately, these and so many more of the American people’s priorities go unanswered when commonsense is abandoned and a reckless few can turn a divided Congress into a dysfunctional Congress.”
Senator Bill Nelson said with the passage of the bill, now is the time to look to the future so this type of thing does not happen again.
““So for now, we can breathe a sigh of relief. But this is going to crank up again, starting in December, January and February – the deadlines of this agreement. We just can’t keep continuing putting our country in situations like this,” said Nelson in a statement. “We’ve got to find a way, right soon, to govern ourselves without being at the mercy of a few partisan extremists. Congress has a responsibility to cast aside extremism and reach out to find common ground, reason and common sense. We owe no less to our people in this country.”
The budget deal also includes one change to the president’s health care plan. To avoid fraud, the government will have to verify the income of anyone applying for federal assistance to buy health insurance.