A deal struck in the Senate earlier today has been approved by Congress to re-open the federal government and raise the debt ceiling on the eve of when the Treasury Department stated it would run out of money to pay the nation’s bills.
The action by Congress avoids a potential default for the first time in the nation’s history.
It also follows a day when an attempt to end the impasse collapsed in the House, forcing the Senate to scramble for a solution.
The bill passed the Senate on an 81-18 vote with both Sen. Mike Johanns and Sen. Deb Fischer voting in favor of the bill.
It then was approved in the House on a 285-144 vote. Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith all voted for the measure.
Federal workers have been told to report to work as usual Thursday.
“Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement late Wednesday night. Burwell directed employees to check news outlets and OPM’s Web site for further updates.
Sen. Mike Johanns stated earlier in the day Congress needs to fund the federal government and the country cannot afford to risk its credit rating by coming up against the debt ceiling.
Johanns, a Republican, saw the compromise clearing Congress and moving on to President Barack Obama.
“You know, things can always happen at the last moment, but assuming that there’s nothing monumental out there, it looks like this gets a lot of votes in the Senate. I think it will be very bi-partisan and it looks like it gets a lot of votes in the House,” Johanns told Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Johanns said opponents of the federal health-care law didn’t get any concessions during the two-week stand-off and likely even provided cover for the failures of the new law.
“Obamacare is really a mess and, unfortunately, we’ve been all focused on this, but the rollout has been an unmitigated disaster,” according to Johanns. “The wheels are coming off this piece of legislation just as many of us argued for the last two years it would. It is a terrible piece of policy.”
The Treasury Department stated it wwould have run out of authority to borrow and pay the nation’s bills tomorrow.