By Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic and Republican leaders on Wednesday reached final agreement on a deal to reopen the government and extend its borrowing authority into February, with final passage looking increasingly possible by Wednesday evening.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced the completion of the agreement shortly after noon, and the Senate Republicans who had led the push to shut down the government unless President Obama’s health care law was gutted conceded defeat and promised not to delay a final vote.
“This is not a time to point fingers of blame,” Mr. Reid said. “This is a time of reconciliation.”
The deal, with the government shutdown in its third week, yielded virtually no concessions to the Republicans, other than some minor tightening of income verifications for people obtaining subsidized insurance under the new health care law.
Under the agreement, the government would be funded through Jan. 15, and the debt ceiling would be raised until Feb. 7. The Senate will take up a separate motion to instruct House and Senate negotiators to reach accord by Dec. 13 on a long-term blueprint for tax and spending policies over the next decade.
Mr. McConnell stressed that under the deal, budget cuts extracted in the 2011 fiscal showdown were not reversed, as some Democrats had wanted, a slim reed that not even he claimed as a significant victory.
The deal, he said, “is far less than many of us hoped for, quite frankly, but far better than what some had fought.”
“It’s time for Republicans to unite behind other crucial goals,” he added.
Chastened Senate Republicans said they hoped the outcome would be a learning experience for lawmakers in the House and the Senate who shut down the government in hopes of gutting Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Instead of using the twin deadlines of an end to government funding and borrowing authority to address the drivers of the federal deficit, conservatives focused on a law they could never undo as long as Mr. Obama is president, several senators said.
“We took some bread crumbs and left an entire meal on the table,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “This has been a really bad two weeks for the Republican Party.”
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