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From Health Law Daily, October 16, 2013

Lawmakers reach agreement to fund government, avert default

By Jeff Carlson

Senate leaders forged a short term agreement on October 16 to fund the government for 90 days until January 15, 2014, and avert default by raising the debt ceiling until February 7, all without any major concessions to Republicans. House GOP leaders had already decided on October 15 to forego including a two-year delay of the 2.3 percent medical device excise tax (enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148)) in their proposal to end the government shutdown when it became apparent the measure had lost support among members.

“We are now seeing the end of this agonizing odyssey that this body has been put through, but far more importantly, the American people have been put through,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) the most vocal GOP critic of the shutdown. “It's one of the more shameful chapters that I have seen in the years that I have spent here in the Senate,” he said.

Income and PPACA subsidies. Although Republicans essentially conceded the fight to Democrats, they achieved small victories in maintaining budget levels achieved under the Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25) and some tightening of income verifications for people obtaining subsidized insurance under the new health care law.

Lawmakers credited Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and her bipartisan group of 14 for laying the groundwork for a final agreement. “It was a wonderful group of people united by our determination to demonstrate that we could compromise, we could govern, we could bring an end to this impasse,” said Collins from the Senate floor.

Voting. Both the House and Senate are expected to approve the measure before the midnight deadline after which the U.S Treasury could no longer pay the nation’s bill without an increase in the debt limit. Under a separate motion, the Senate plans to instruct House and Senate budget negotiators to reach accord by Dec. 13 on a 10-year budget blueprint for tax and spending policies.

“As part of our agreement – and in order to assure Congress continues the work of setting this country on a path to fiscal sustainability – this legislation instructs leaders to name conferees to a budget conference committee,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “This conference committee, led by Chairman Murray and Chairman Ryan, which will produce its negotiated budget resolution in December, is the appropriate place to discuss our differing views of the best way to chart a course for economic growth,” said Reid.

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