At long last, we final­ly have some decent news out of the Oth­er Washington.

By a vote of eighty-one to eigh­teen, the Unit­ed States Sen­ate has vot­ed to approve leg­is­la­tion that reopens the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment through mid-Jan­u­ary and allows the U.S. Depart­ment of the Trea­sury to pay Amer­i­ca’s bills through mid-Feb­ru­ary. More than half of the Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus joined with every sin­gle one of the Sen­ate’s Democ­rats and the cham­ber’s two inde­pen­dents to pass the bill.

“I want to thank the lead­ers of both par­ties for get­ting us to this point,” said Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma in an appear­ance at the White House fol­low­ing the vote, refer­ring to Sen­a­tors Har­ry Reid of Neva­da and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“Once this agree­ment arrives on my desk, I will sign it imme­di­ate­ly. We’ll begin reopen­ing our gov­ern­ment imme­di­ate­ly, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncer­tain­ty and unease from our busi­ness­es and from the Amer­i­can people.”

“I’ll have more to say about this tomor­row. And I’ve got some thoughts about how we can move for­ward in the remain­der of the year and stay focused on the job at hand, because there is a lot of work ahead of us, includ­ing our need to earn back the trust of the Amer­i­can peo­ple that has been lost over the last few weeks. And we can begin to do that by address­ing the real issues that they care about.”

The Pacif­ic North­west roll call on H.R. 2275, as amend­ed, was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Democ­rats Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray (WA); Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR); Mark Begich (AK); Jon Tester and Max Bau­cus (MT); Repub­li­can Lisa Murkows­ki (AK)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­cans Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (ID)

Jeers to the Ida­ho del­e­ga­tion for being among the eigh­teen intran­si­gent Repub­li­cans who vot­ed no. Even Mitch McConnell and John Thune vot­ed to avert a default. But Jim Risch and Mike Crapo? Nah, they’re not inter­est­ed in pre­vent­ing an eco­nom­ic calami­ty from befalling this coun­try and the world community.

Wash­ing­ton’s own Pat­ty Mur­ray, the fourth high­est rank­ing mem­ber of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus and the chair­woman of the Com­mit­tee on the Bud­get, issued a lengthy state­ment fol­low­ing the Sen­ate vote. She said:

Tonight I share with every Wash­ing­ton State fam­i­ly a deep sense of relief that this embar­rass­ing episode is near­ing an end.

These past few weeks have seen the dys­func­tion in Wash­ing­ton D.C. seep its way into the lives and liveli­hoods of fam­i­lies in ways that are com­plete­ly unac­cept­able and that were entire­ly preventable.

Fam­i­lies across our state have every right to be angry with the fact they’ve been made vic­tims by an unnec­es­sary cri­sis that they didn’t cre­ate and had no con­trol over.

I hope that if any les­son comes of these last few weeks it’s that the Amer­i­can peo­ple will not tol­er­ate being held hostage and that the con­stant cycle of gov­ern­ing by cri­sis must come to an end.

Thank­ful­ly, as part of the agree­ment to end this cri­sis, Repub­li­cans have now final­ly agreed to the bud­get con­fer­ence com­mit­tee that I have been ask­ing for over the last six months. I am look­ing for­ward to the big chal­lenge that bridg­ing the sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences between the House and Sen­ate bud­gets presents, I am absolute­ly com­mit­ted to find­ing com­mon ground, and I hope Repub­li­cans are too.

I first ran for the Sen­ate because I saw a Con­gress that was dis­con­nect­ed from the lives of my neigh­bors and friends.

I believed then — as I con­tin­ue to do now — that bring­ing the strug­gles, suc­cess­es, and hopes of reg­u­lar Wash­ing­ton state fam­i­lies to the debates in Wash­ing­ton D.C. helps cre­ate a gov­ern­ment that is more respon­sive to their needs.

Today we find our­selves at a sim­i­lar cross­roads, where so many Amer­i­cans right­ly feel like their voic­es aren’t being heard. Too often reg­u­lar Amer­i­cans’ calls for bipar­ti­san­ship and progress are being hijacked by who­ev­er yells the loud­est or caus­es the biggest com­mo­tion. Despite all that we have in com­mon, our pol­i­tics con­tin­ues to be more and more defined by what sets us apart.

My hope is that in the weeks and months ahead we can heal many of the par­ti­san divides that keep us from address­ing the big chal­lenges we face, includ­ing return­ing our focus to cre­at­ing jobs and improv­ing our econ­o­my. But most impor­tant­ly, I hope that we heed the call of every Amer­i­can to do every­thing we can to ensure we nev­er repeat the dam­ag­ing crises we are on the verge of emerg­ing from.

We expect a state­ment from Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell soon and will update this post when we get it. We are also hop­ing to get reac­tion from Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon. Most sen­a­tors have fur­loughed their staffs, so they are not oper­at­ing nor­mal­ly due to the shutdown.

H.R. 2275 (as amend­ed) now moves to the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. John Boehn­er and his deputies have sig­naled they will put the bill on a fast track to pas­sage so that it can get to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s desk quick­ly. It’s not clear how many Repub­li­can votes Boehn­er will be able to deliv­er, but it’s expect­ed that Democ­rats will pro­vide the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of votes to reopen the gov­ern­ment and allow Trea­sury to pay the nation’s bills.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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