After 16 days of a shutdown of the federal government, orchestrated by Ohio Congressman and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and his small but mighty Tea Party wing, that sources say cost about $24 billion, peering into the abyss of defaulting on paying the nation's bills was too scary for the 87 Republicans who broke to join 198 Democrats Wednesday evening to restart the government and authorize President Obama to start paying bills again.
Earlier in the evening the U.S. Senate passed a bill 81-18, that included 26 GOP senators voting with Democrats, that will fund the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. It's estimated that 800,000 federal workers who were furloughed by the shutdown will receive back pay.
The bill sets also sets up a Senate-House budget conference to negotiate broader fiscal reforms and report its work to Congress by Dec. 13.
After the Senate voted but before the House voted, President Obama said he would sign the bill once it comes to him. "I will sign it immediately," he said in a statement. "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."
Speaker Boehner, whose reliably Republican district near Cincinnati in southwest Ohio has sent him to Congress since the early 1990s, released a statement regarding the bipartisan Senate agreement to reopen the federal government and avoid a national default
"The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country's debt and providing fairness for the American people under ObamaCare. That fight will continue," he said, reminding everyone that the bill the Senate and House passed today will expire next February, when Washington watchers say it will happen all over again as House Republicans obsess with spending cuts while refusing to negotiate on revenue balances.
Blocking bipartisan agreements won't be a tactic for the Majority Caucus next time, he said, noting that doing so would "open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts." Raising taxes is not a viable option, especially with a still struggling national economy, he said.
"Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president's health care law will continue. We will rely on aggressive oversight that highlights the law's massive flaws and smart, targeted strikes that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to force his health care law on the American people," Speaker Boehner said.
But when the speaker brought the Senate bill to the floor, which he could have done weeks ago but chose not to appease his Tea Party caucus members, who were dared by Texas' evangelical Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz to stand their ground on debt and deficits and sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, 38 percent of his Majority Caucus members joined all Democrats to pass the bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky brokered over the last 48 hours.
After putting the nation through the wringer, the only change to ObamaCare in the bill Republicans won was a new process to verify the income claims of people applying for federal health insurance subsidies.
The final House vote was 285-144, with 87 Republicans breaking away. Bills are passed with 218 votes in the House.
Every day Speaker Boehner and Tea Party Congressman defied the full will of the lower chamber turned into a day progressive activists could point to as an example of why Republicans should be unelected in next year's important midterm elections.
The Washington Post said House Speaker John A. Boehner lost the shutdown showdown in ignominious fashion, winning not a single concession of any value from Democrats and exposing his majority as powerless to advance conservative causes.
One Gallup poll registered GOP approval at 28 percent, the lowest rating it had ever recorded for a political party.
Since their rise in 2010, Republicans under the spell of Tea Party influence have fought President Obama and Congressional Democrats on every front possible, with the biggest battleground being their attempts to sabotage, repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, passed and signed into law in March of 2010. Obamacare, as the ACA became widely known, was the rallying cry of the angry town hall meetings that summer whose crescendo was the return of Republicans to control of the House.
After last year's presidential race, which President Obama won again by a majority of the national vote, Boehner remained Speaker even though he lost eight seats, reducing his numbers from the highs of 2010 when they won 63 seats, among the highest wins in history.
But while 2010 was a great year for the GOP in congressional races and state governorships and legislatures, 2012 saw Democrats retain the White House and the Senate and reduce Boehner's numbers in the House.
The 2014 midterms are shaping up to be, possibly, historic. In light of the tactics and strategies Speaker Boehner and Tea Party activists have used to push the nation to the brink of financial collapse, voters may not be kind to the GOP in a little over a year from now.
Helping to make that once thought fantasy more reality than dream, the progressive activists group MoveOn thinks the drama Republicans have put the nation and the world through can be avoided if Democrats can win a minium of 17 net seats next and return Republicans to minority party status.
Leveraging today's events, MoveOn said GOP lawmakers "came within just 24 hours of defaulting on our national debt for the first time in U.S. history. They made our government look dysfunctional to the rest of the world, and brought us to the verge of wreaking havoc on the global economy."
In a polling partnership with Public Policy Polling, one of the best performing polling outfits through out last year's presidential race, MoveOn is excited now that Republicans are making themselves vulnerable in the 2014 elections thanks to the shutdown. "Democrats need 17 seats to take back the House—and our results have shown Republicans trailing in at least 25 districts."
Senator Cruz filibustered Obamacare in the Senate, and challenged House Republicans to force the president's hand by not voting to fund the government without defunding the healthcare law.
By spreading awareness that the GOP's stubbornness has cost the American people more than $24 billion, MoveOn and Democrats hope to make the 2014 election look more like last year than 2010.
Appearing on CBS Sunday morning political talk show Face the Nation, Speaker Boehner said that Congress should be "judged on how many laws we repeal" when he was asked about his record of presiding over the least productive and least popular Congress in history. By defending obstructionist policies pushed by far-right Republicans like Sens. Cruz, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, Democrats have strong arguments to make for unelecting Republicans next year.
"If you ever had any doubts, this confirms it — Republicans would rather obstruct than govern. The best way to stop them is to vote them out of office
For MoveOn, it's about applying pressure over the next 13 months to pin the blame on Tea Party Republicans in the minds of the public and the mainstream media. While they worry that Democrats in Congress don't buckle under the pressure for a bad deal, they say one thing is crystal-clear: Because of the antics of Tea Party Republican, the GOP's House majority is at risk next year, and "we have the next 13 months to capitalize on their recklessness."
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