Last night Congress passed a bill (H.R. 2775) to fund the federal government until Jan. 15, 2014, and suspend the statutory federal debt limit until Feb. 7, 2014. Congress will also convene a conference committee to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2014 budget resolution by Dec. 13, 2013. Both the Senate and House have announced their conferees.
Marie Hollein, Financial Executive International’s President and CEO, praised the bipartisan agreement: “Our members are relieved that Congress has come together to reopen the federal government and secure the full faith and credit of the United States in the nick of time. They fervently hope that Congress will now work out a long-term solution to the country’s deficit problems through entitlement reform, rationale spending reductions and pro-growth tax reform.”
The House vote was 285 to 144, with 198 of 200 Democrats supporting the measure along with 87 House Republicans. The Senate vote was 81 to 18. President Obama signed the bill into law early this morning.
The deal requires that additional measures be put in place in order to verify the income of individuals who receive subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, a small concession targeted at House Republicans. The agreement also provides back pay for furloughed federal workers.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hailed the agreement he worked out with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as "historic.” McConnell said the upcoming spending deal the conference committee hammers out should adhere to caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act that included forced cuts known as “sequestration.”
Had Congress not approved a debt limit increase the United States would have reached the debt ceiling today, forcing the government to finance operations and maintain debt payments on current receipts plus approximately $30 billion in available funds. Expectations were that the U.S. would have defaulted by Nov. 1, 2013. Now that Congress has approved a spending plan, more than 800,000 furloughed employees can return to work.