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Washington Beat: Senate, House Pass Deal To Avoid Default, Reopen Gov't

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Congress passed a bipartisan agreement late Wednesday night, avoiding a default and finally bringing to an end the first government shutdown in 17 years. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - It was another down-to-the-wire deal in the nation's Capitol, bringing to an end a political stalemate that drove the world's biggest economy to the brink of default.

"We'll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people," said President Barack Obama.

The bipartisan bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and easily cleared the House, and was signed by Obama early Thursday morning.

Senate leaders finalized the deal after House Republicans failed to produce a viable plan of their own.

Both chambers kicked into motion after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who campaigned to defund the president's health care law, said he wouldn't delay a vote in the Senate.

"There's nothing to be gained from delaying this vote one day or two days," Cruz said. "The outcome will be the same."

The agreement funds the government until January 15, raises the debt limit until February 7, establishes a bipartisan committee to work through fiscal issues, and ensures that people who receive subsidies to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act are actually eligible. It also includes back pay for furloughed federal government workers.

The White House on Wednesday welcomed the agreement, but stopped short of declaring victory over Republicans.

"There are no winners here. We've said that from the beginning, and we're going to say it right up to the end, because it's true," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "The American people have paid a price for this."

Politically speaking, though, the deal is a win for Democrats and a defeat for Republicans, who tried to use the threat of a potential default to force major changes in the president's health care law.

Before the vote on Wednesday, some House Republicans were already talking about lessons learned.

"You know, we're not going to get 100 percent of what we want, and we understand that, and I think those are some of the things that are being learned now," said Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina. " I think that there's some very valuable lessons for us."

Some House Democrats, whose votes were crucial to deal's success, were happy to relish the role they played.

"We've gotten very good about making sure that Republicans don’t pull the economy off a cliff," said Rep. Steve Israel, whose district covers parts of Queens and Long Island. "We've done it before. We will do it again."

They may have to do it again when the current measure expires in January.

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