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From Products Liability Law Daily, October 16, 2013

Senate deal presages welcome end to budget, borrowing crises

By Georgia D. Koutouzos, J.D.

The U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan deal today that would end the government shutdown, fund the government through January 15, 2014, and raise the nation’s debt limit through February 7, 2014, thus averting a default on U.S. obligations while Congress works toward a long-term budget agreement. 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.

Announced earlier this afternoon by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the legislation instructs leaders to name conferees to a budget conference committee to be co-chaired by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that will work on the larger issues, like spending cuts and entitlement programs, that have divided Democrats and Republicans since the 113th Congress convened in January.

According to mainstream news sources, the deal makes no significant changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [Pub. L. No. 111-148], but does add safeguards to ensure that individuals receiving subsidies to purchase health insurance are in fact eligible for that assistance.

Once passed by both chambers—which may or may not occur in time for President Obama to sign the measure into law today (full Senate and House votes have yet to be held as this story was finalized)—the legislation would mean that the hundreds of thousands of federal employees idled by the 16-day-old shutdown could return to work as early as tomorrow, and that the Treasury Department can continue to borrow money as needed to pay the U.S. government’s obligations beyond the October 17 deadline after which the government was likely to default on its debts absent Congressional action. The relatively short timeline of the budget and debt-ceiling extensions could set up yet another showdown early next year, however, as the divisiveness and rancor that plagued lawmakers over the past few weeks remains largely unassuaged by today’s accord.

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