U.S. Senate leaders said Wednesday that they reached a bipartisan agreement to end a 16-day government shutdown and avert default on the national debt.
Congress will now attempt to quickly advance the legislation in hopes of avoiding default on the national debt and reopening the government tomorrow.
Crucially, conservatives in the Senate, particularly Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said they would not use procedural tactics to slow a vote on the legislation.
That brightens the odds of a quick solution on the bipartisan deal to reopen the government through mid-January and raise the debt ceiling until February.
Its exact path through both chambers and prospects for passage are still uncertain, however, and nothing has been officially signed as of now.
If it does pass, it would be a win for President Barack Obama, who vowed not to bargain over basic government operations or preserving the credibility of U.S. debt.
The deal also locks in reduced spending levels as established under the automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester,” a silver lining for Republicans.
"The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said today.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “This is far less than many of us had hoped for, frankly, but is far better than what some had sought.”
Unencumbered by the objections of Cruz and his allies on the right, the Senate could conceivably move quickly to send its proposal to the House.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will have to rely on Democratic votes in order to ensure passage of the deal, which would be a major concession.
Throughout the past month’s fiscal fight, he has insisted on advancing legislation with only Republican votes. As such, nothing has advanced.
If the House were to approve the Senate compromise today, the final agreement would be sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
The theatrics of the past three weeks have laid bare many of the stark, dividing lines that have plagued Congress for the past two and a half years.
Here's hoping that after today, this episode can quickly be put behind us ... at least until early 2014 when another continuing resolution is needed.