Live updates: The Senate moves to end fiscal standoff

Keith Wagstaff
The Week
The statue of Grief and History in front of the U.S. Capitol has never seemed so astute.

With the debt ceiling expected to hit tomorrow, Senate leaders are working to finalize a deal that they hope could pass the House later today, ending the government shutdown and preventing the United States from defaulting on its debt obligations for the first time in history.

In the best-case scenario, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would put the finishing touches on their plan, sell it to their respective caucuses when the Senate reconvenes at noon, and promptly send it to the House, where House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would let it come up for a vote this afternoon.

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The Senate proposal would fund the government until Jan. 15, extend the debt ceiling until around Feb. 7, and create a committee that would be responsible for creating a detailed budget plan for the next decade by Dec. 13. According to Politico, it would also require slightly more strict income verification standards for people requesting health insurance subsidies under ObamaCare, and provide the Treasury Department more flexibility to pay the nation's bills if the country hits the debt ceiling again in the future.

Plenty of things could prevent a deal from getting done today. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) could delay a Senate deal by requesting 30 hours of debate. Even if it passed the Senate, Boehner would have to ignore the "Hastert Rule" and allow the proposal to go to the House floor for a vote, something that would almost certainly anger Tea Party Republicans.

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Right now, however, there doesn't seem to be any other way to avoid default. Yesterday, House Republicans twice attempted to craft a counteroffer to a Senate proposal, only to watch both of them fall apart amid objections from conservatives.

The National Review's Robert Costa reports that House Republicans have pretty much given up on passing their own proposal, and are now waiting for the Senate to act.

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— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 16, 2013

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