WASHINGTON -- As soon as the news broke that the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders had reached an agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, lawmakers scrambled into action. They gathered with each other and they crowded around television cameras hooked into satellite feeds in the Russell Senate Building Rotunda.
The four part plan would reopen the federal government through January 15 and increase the nation's borrowing authority through February 7. It would also task a group to come up with a long term budget fix by mid-December. Finally, it includes an income verification component into the Affordable Care Act.
The first to grab a seat and chat with KARE 11 was Democratic Rep. Tim Walz. "I'm glad we're moving forward. This is a completely avoidable and manufactured crisis. It's time to get back to the real business that we were sent here for," he said. "Of course, it's going to be exactly what was going to happen two weeks ago. It's exactly what the end game was going to be and it does nothing more than keep government open and pay the bills," Rep. Walz added.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota who helped broker the deal, was next up. "The Senate has been itching to do things that are more in the middle, and said 'that's it, we're going to take action!' Our group got started with a bunch of meetings and we really produced a plan and started pressuring our leadership," she explained.
"In terms of winners and losers, I don't think you see any winners. People try to keep a political scorecard of whether it was good for this party or if it was good for that party. That's the last thing we need right now," the Senator added.
But Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who also joined KARE 11 from Washington, said President Obama won, as the agreement did little to change the Affordable Care Act. "This was the fight we were trying to have with the President so we could get some reasonableness into this deal. The President would have none of it because he saw that ultimately Republicans would be unwilling to let our country go into default. So he counted on Republicans to be the adults in the room. That's what happened today," Rep. Bachmann said.
Democratic Representative Rick Nolan said the agreement offers a pathway back towards a healthier conversation. "Better late than never. It's a good common sense, bipartisan proposal that the Senate has put together. It funds the government at 2008 levels," he told KARE 11 via satellite.
Senator Al Franken hopes the conversation has reached a turning point, as lawmakers look for a "grand bargain" on taxes and spending, by the end of the year. "Minnesotans want us to operate on our principals but if one of our principals is never compromise; Minnesotans don't want that," he said.
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