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Senate leaders agree on plan to end government shutdown

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have agreed on a plan to reopen the federal government after two weeks of shutdown. The shutdown took effect on October 1st, after Congress failed to agree on a budget because of Republican opposition to Obama's Affordable Care Act. As part of the compromise, the US budget will be extended through January 14th, 2014, and the debt limit will be suspended until February 7th — once again punting an issue Congress has been debating for years. A committee will look at more expansive plans for a budget later this year, with a report due December 13th. The ACA itself remains undelayed and largely unchanged, except for tougher checks on the income of people receiving government health-care subsidies.

The agreement comes one day before the Treasury Department warned that the US was in danger of defaulting on its loans. It still needs to be made official in both the Senate and the House — where hard-line Tea Party members have so far derailed negotiations. With McConnell and Reid in agreement, however, Congress looks to be falling into line. One of the ACA's major opponents, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), has also said he will not oppose this compromise, and McConnell says that Republicans will move to discussing other issues for the time being.