Late on Wednesday evening, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill to end the government shutdown and extend the credit limit. The U.S. Senate passed the act only hours before, and President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law within the hour.
Highlights of the bipartisan agreement to end the partial government shutdown and extending the debt limit:
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Ends it immediately, finances federal agencies through Jan. 15. Workers furloughed without pay when the shutdown began Oct. 1 receive back pay.
DEBT CEILING: Government's authority to borrow money extended until Feb. 7. Using streamlined procedures, Congress could vote to block the debt-limit extension, but that effort was certain to fail. No constraints on Treasury Department's ability to move funds among accounts once debt limit is reached, in effect extending government's ability to avoid default several weeks beyond Feb. 7 if needed.
HEALTH CARE LAW: (Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare): Department of Health and Human Services must certify it can verify income eligibility of people applying for government subsidies for health insurance. By next July 1, the department's inspector general must report on the agency's safeguards for preventing fraud.
LONGER-RANGE BUDGET ISSUES: In accompanying agreement, House-Senate bargainers will negotiate over issues like budget deficits and spending levels. Bargainers must issue report by Dec. 13, but they are not required to come to agreement.
OTHER ITEMS: No pay raise for members of Congress in 2014; $636 million for firefighting for the Interior Department and the Forest Service; Allows work to continue on Olmstead lock in the Ohio River between Kentucky and Illinois; Lets Federal Highway Administration reimburse Colorado up to $450 million for flood-damaged roads, exceeding usual $100 million cap.
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