On Wednesday, the Senate reached a deal to reopen the government after a more than two-week shutdown. The agreement funds the government at pre-shutdown levels until Jan. 15 and also suspended the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.
While the deal did set up a framework for bipartisan talks on taxes and government spending, it did nothing to address to root causes of disagreement between the two parties: spending and the size and role of government. It largely maintained the status quo, making it possible that October's play will be staged yet again early next year. Based upon their comments following the deal, the cast is likely to reprise their roles: conservative Republicans saying that they will refuse to agree to a budget that doesn't reduce government spending or defund Obamacare, and Democrats saying they will refuse to gut President Barack Obama's health care law or reduce spending on other social safety net programs.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, the main proponent of dismissing any budget proposals that continued funding for the Affordable Care Act in the lead up to the shutdown, said after the deal was reached Wednesday that he is not giving up the fight to do away with the law. Cruz said that despite the fact that Obamacare was not altered under the agreement to reopen the government, "there is reason to take heart and be encouraged":
We've also seen a model that I think is the model going forward to defeat Obamacare to bring back jobs, economic growth, to abolish the IRS, to rein in out of control spending. And that model is empowering the American people. I remain inspired because the people all over the country who rose up and made D.C. listen, the House of Representatives listen. And I'm confident in time the United States Senate will as well.
All Republicans don't endorse that route, however. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire called Cruz's strategy of putting Obamacare center stage in the budget fight "ill conceived," and warned that the government can no longer rely on brinksmanship in order to get things done. After a deal was reached Wednesday, Ayotte said while she was pleased an immediate agreement was accomplished, "much work remains to be done to address the underlying fiscal challenges that brought us to this point - including our $17 trillion debt. Americans are rightfully tired and frustrated, and we owe it to them to stop governing by crisis and start working together to solve problems."
President Obama too said Congress must change the way it does business:
We all know that we have divided government right now. There's a lot of noise out there, and the pressure from the extremes affect how lot of members of Congress see the day-to-day work that's supposed to be done here.
And let's face it. The American people don't see every issue the same way. That doesn't mean we can't make progress. And when we disagree, we don't have to suggest that the other side doesn't love this country or believe in free enterprise or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year. If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on and get some stuff done.
U.S. News's Pat Garofalo said it is unlikely the two parties will be able to resolve their differences as the next deadline approaches:
Not only does the deal set up another potential mess in just a few months, but it sends both houses of Congress back into the sort of fruitless budget negotiations that set up the so-called sequester: the across-the-board budget cuts that were supposed to be so painful that lawmakers would have to craft some other deal, but that have been allowed to go into effect with nary a peep from anyone, severely damaging the economy and programs upon which many Americans rely. Despite reaching an accord on the government shutdown, the deep differences between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to revenue and entitlements haven't gone anywhere, and certainly won't be solved by January.
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- Read Lara Brown: Neither Democrats or Republicans ‘Won’ the Debt Ceiling-Shutdown Standoff
- Read Robert Schlesinger: With the Shutdown Crisis Over, Let’s Get Rid of the Debt Ceiling
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