Republican John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, pumps his fist as he walks past reporters after a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill. Boehner says Republicans won't block the Senate deal to end the government shutdown reached earlier Wednesday when they vote on it later this evening. Evan Vucci/Associated Press
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said his chamber will not block a Senate deal to raise the U.S. debt limit and end the government shutdown when it votes on the tentative agreement later tonight.
In a brief statement, Boehner said his Republican lawmakers would continue the fight against President Barack Obama's
health care overhaul and for fiscal responsibility.
"But," Boehner added, "blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by members of the Senate will not be a tactic for
"We fought the good fight. We just didn't win," Boehner said.
U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced a bipartisan deal earlier Wednesday to end the 16-day shutdown.
The deal was expected to be voted on in the early evening — first in the Senate and then around midnight in the Republican-led House of Representatives,
The House Republicans met in the late afternoon to be briefed on the details of the deal ahead of the vote.
Government to reopen through Jan. 15
Reid and McConnell announced the agreement in the Senate soon after the day's session began at noon ET.
The proposal would allow the U.S. Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would reopen through Jan. 15.
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"This is a time for reconciliation," Reid said.
Reuters reported that both Democrats and Republicans are confident that the House will have enough votes to pass the bipartisan Senate plan today.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who had earlier opposed any compromise unless it removed funding for Obamacare, said he does not intend to delay consideration of the measure.
Stock markets soared on the news that the threat of default was easing.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 174 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 15,342 as of 2:08 p.m. while the Standard & Poor's 500 index approached record highs, rising 19 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 1,718, just seven points below its all-time high of 1,725 set Sept. 18.
The Nasdaq composite rose 42 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 3,835.
"The market believed in and anticipated a resolution," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management. "However, we are nonetheless pleased that we got it. It's a relief."
Measure likely to be approved
It was a jubilant moment when the deal was reached in the Senate, which on Tuesday was forced to sit back and watch as the effort by House GOP leaders for a bill collapsed in disarray.
McConnell said that with the Senate accord, Republicans had sealed a deal to have spending in one area of the budget decline for two years in a row, adding, "we're not going back."
If both chambers approve the deal before day's end, Obama can sign the bill into law ahead of the Thursday deadline that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had set for action to raise the $16.7 trillion US debt limit. Without action by lawmakers, Lew said, Treasury could not be certain it had the ability to pay bills as they come due.
While the deal could meet resistance from conservatives in the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, supports the plan and says her rank and file is expected to vote for it in overwhelming numbers.
That raised the possibility that more Democrats than Republicans would back it, potentially causing additional problems for Boehner as he struggles to manage his Tea Party-heavy majority.
After abandoning their own plan on Tuesday, House members quietly awaited Senate action, resigned to the likelihood that they would have to back the deal or plunge the nation into default. The only silver lining was the promise that it would be their last vote for the week after three straight weekends in Washington.
Deal makes few concessions to Republicans
The White House welcomed the compromise, and spokesman Jay Carney said the president looked forward to signing it into law.
In political terms, the final agreement was almost entirely along lines Obama had set when the impasse began last month. Tea Party conservatives had initially demanded the defunding of the health care law as the price for providing essential federal funding.
Under a strategy set by Obama and Reid, Democrats said they would not negotiate with Republicans in exchange for performing what the White House called basic functions of keeping the government in operation and preventing Treasury from defaulting on its obligations.
A long line of polls charted a steep decline in public approval for Republicans in the course of what Republican Senator John McCain pronounced a "shameful episode" in the nation's history.
In addition to raising the debt limit, the proposal would give lawmakers a vote to disapprove the increase. Obama would have the right to veto their opposition, ensuring he would prevail.
House and Senate negotiators would be appointed to seek a deficit-reduction deal. At the last minute, Reid and McConnell jettisoned a plan to give federal agencies increased flexibility in coping with the effects of across-the-board cuts. Officials said that would be a topic for the negotiations expected to begin shortly.
The deal would provide back pay to the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, including half who have been idled for more than two weeks.
Despite initial Republican demands for the defunding of the health care law often derided as "Obamacare," the pending agreement makes only one modest change touching on the program. It relates to a requirement that individuals and families seeking subsidies to purchase coverage verify their incomes before qualifying.
2 previous drafts of deal failed in House
The deal was reached after dire warnings from the financial world. The Fitch credit rating agency said it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade. John Chambers, chairman of Standard & Poor's Sovereign Debt Committee, told CBS This Morning that a U.S. government default on its debts would be "much worse than Lehman Brothers," the investment firm whose 2008 collapse led to the global financial crisis.
The Senate pact had been put on hold Tuesday, an extraordinary day that highlighted how unruly rank-and-file House Republicans can be, even when the stakes are high. Facing solid Democratic opposition, Boehner tried in vain to write legislation that would satisfy GOP lawmakers, especially conservatives.
Boehner crafted two versions of the bill, but neither made it to a House vote because both faced certain defeat. Working against him was word during the day from the influential Heritage Action for America group that his legislation was not conservative enough — a worrisome threat for many GOP lawmakers whose biggest electoral fears are of primary challenges from the right.
Boehner's inability to produce a bill that could pass his own chamber likely means he will have to let the House vote on a Senate compromise, even if that means it would pass with strong Democratic and weak GOP support. House Republican leaders have tried to avoid that scenario for fear that it would threaten their leadership, and some Republicans worried openly about that.
"Of all the damage to be done politically here, one of the greatest concerns I have is that somehow John Boehner gets compromised," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a former House member and a Boehner supporter.