Government Shutdown FY2014: Two Weeks On, Is An End in Sight?

Government Shutdown FY2014: Two Weeks On, Is An End in Sight?

The roller coaster ride continues with more rumors that a deal is near to reopen the government and raise the debt limit, followed by more waiting and uncertainty.

At the end of last week, it appeared as though House Repubicans and the White House were close to agreement, but that fell through Thursday night.   Attention turned to the Senate where it appeared that Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) had come up with a winning strategy, but that fell by the wayside over the weekend.   President Obama was set to meet at 3:00 pm this afternoon with House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders to figure out next steps, but the meeting was postponed when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that they were close to agreement and just needed a little more time.

The afternoon wore on without an announcement.  As the Senate was about to adjourn for the day just after 6:00 pm ET, Reid said on the Senate floor that he and McConnell had “made tremendous progress” but “we are not there yet … and everyone just needs to be patient,” adding later that “we’re doing our best to make everybody happy but everyone knows we’re not going to be able to do that.”  McConnell said “we’ve made substantial progress and look forward to making more progress in the near future.”

It is important to bear in mind that even if the Senate reaches agreement, there is no guarantee that the House will go along. 

For what it’s worth, the deal Reid and McConnell are working on reportedly would:  fund the government through January 15 at the FY2013 level of $986 billion; raise the debt limit until early-mid February; set up negotiations that would have to be completed by December 13 on a long term budget agreement; require income verification to qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); delay for one year a reinsurance tax included in Obamacare; and give agencies more flexibility in making budget cuts required by sequestration.   The next phase of sequestration kicks in on January 15, which is how that date was chosen as the deadline for government funding.

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