Senate leaders unveiled a plan on Wednesday.
US Senate Democratic and Republican leaders on Wednesday announced an agreement that could end the government shutdown. The plan, unveiled by Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), would reopen the federal government through January, 15th, 2014, and increase the nation's borrowing authority through February 7th, 2014.
"We've achieved our objectives of opening government, of honoring our bills, and sitting down to negotiate a budget for the coming year. That was the important objective of this particular moment," says Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.). "We bought a little bit of time now to sit down and negotiate a budget."
He says a vote on the agreement could take place as early as Wednesday.
The government shutdown began on October 1st because both the GOP-dominated House of Representatives and the Democratic-majority Senate could not reach agreement. The House had passed a resolution to fund the federal government which also contained a "rider" to defund the Affordable Care Act, which is sometimes known as "Obamacare." The Senate did not go along.
The most noticeable effect of the government shutdown was the closure of the national parks and monuments. The one that caught many Americans' attention was the closure of the World War II Monument in Washington DC. Many veterans of that conflict had come to see it, but couldn't get in.
Then the nation began to come up against the prospect of running out of money to pay its bills, and could enter into default. Many were predicting that would be catastrophic for the country's economy.
Cardin says the government shutdown and the specter of default did a lot of damage to the economy. "I would hope that this lesson would be learned, and that we would never again put the American economy in that position," he says.
There was a lot of blame going around over who was at fault for the shutdown, with Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers at each other. "I think quite frankly with the damage that was caused, no one looks good. There'll be plenty of time to look at assessing blame," says Cardin. "I think the most important thing to do is to put the country's interests first. Let's get government open and running, and pay our bills, and negotiate as we should, and let the politics take care of itself."