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Congress avoids a default, reaches deal to reopen government

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U.S. Senate leaders on Wednesday reached a deal to avert a historic default on the U.S. debt and reopen the government after a 16-day partial shutdown, the Associated Press reports. Senators approved the agreement on an 81-18 vote.

Not long after the Senate leaders announced the deal, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said his chamber would not block it. The House wound up passing the measure 285-144 Wednesday night.

"We've been locked into a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare," Boehner said in a radio interview. "We fought the good fight; we just didn't win."

President Barack Obama said it was now time to turn to a post-shutdown agenda, which includes winning back the trust of the American people, USA Today reported. "There is a lot of work ahead of us," Obama said.

The agreement left Republican critics of the Obama administration with little to show for their political battle. But Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken tells WCCO it's not a time to declare victory. Like many, Franken expressed relief that the country avoided a default - at least for now - and is ending the shutdown. WCCO says Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann promised that she is not giving up her fight.

CNN reports the key to breaking the logjam came on Oct. 5, when Republican Susan Collins of Maine challenged her Senate colleagues to "stop fighting and start legislating." Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar was among 13 other senators who responded to Collins' invitation to work out a bipartisan plan. In a jab at Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who made a stand with a 21-hour speech on the Senate floor, Klobuchar told the network that working across the aisle is the real definition of political courage.

The central role that female senators played in brokering the deal has been widely noticed. In a scorecard proclaiming winners and losers in the shutdown, USA Today listed Klobuchar among six women in the Senate who reinforced the perception that the chamber's women are more open to compromise than its men.

Officials said the deal will raise the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and allow the U.S. Treasury to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government will reopen through Jan. 15, the AP reported.

The deal sends hundreds of thousands of federal employees back to work. The timeline of the agreement signals a potentially divisive battle in Congress in the next four months over spending cuts and entitlement programs, the Washington Post reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average spiked after the news broke, the Associated Press reported.

Klobuchar spoke to Fox 9 after the deal had been reached but before the congressional votes.


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