Reid, McConnell Announce Deal to End Shutdown, Avert Default; Cruz Will Not Delay Vote (Video)

Posted October 16, 2013 at 11:49am

Updated 12:30 p.m. | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon to formally announce a deal to reopen the government and extend the debt limit.

No senators are expected to object to expediting the path forward for the legislation.

“The eyes of the world have been on Washington all this week, and that is a gross understatement,” Reid said. “And while they witnessed a great deal of political discord, today they’ll also see Congress reach a historic bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and avert a default on the nation’s bills.

“It’s never easy for two sides to reach consensus. … This time was really hard, but after weeks spent facing off across a partisan divide that often seemed too wide to cross, our country came to the brink of disaster, but in the end political adversaries set aside their differences and disagreements to prevent that disaster,” Reid said.

In his own remarks, McConnell said that it remains important to maintain the spending reductions contained in the Budget Control Act, which he has repeatedly called a top priority.

“What the BCA showed is that Washington can cut spending. And because of this law, that’s just what we’ve done. For the first time since the Korean War, government spending has declined for two years in a row. That’s the first time in 50 years,” McConnell said. “And we’re not going back on this agreement.”

The announcement, which was expected as early as when the Senate convened at high noon, was delayed just a bit as McConnell huddled behind closed doors with the Republican conference to brief members on the agreement.

The Senate vote could very well come today. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was among those saying they had no intention of holding up the process after leaving the meeting with McConnell.

“I don’t intend to delay the timing of the vote. I intend to vote no,” Cruz said. He also said leadership never really asked his intentions regarding a possible objection.

“I think we’re likely to move something today,” Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey said.

The deal is essentially the same as Roll Call reported last night. But in a recent development, sequester flexibility for departments and agencies is expected to be left out of the agreement, a source familiar with the agreement said.

The measure will include retroactive pay for furloughed federal employees, as well as other provisions outlined Tuesday night.

Emily Ethridge and Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.