By Alexander Bolton and Pete Kasperowicz - 10/17/13 11:52 AM EDT
Congress moved Wednesday to end the government shutdown and prevent a possible default, as the House and Senate both approved a Senate-negotiated agreement in separate, bipartisan votes.
The House voted 285-144 in favor of the bill, which would fund the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. That followed an 81-18 Senate vote on the same measure.
After weeks of bitter debate and stalemate between the two parties, it took less than 3 hours for the House and Senate to approve the package. The Treasury had warned it would have only $30 billion in its accounts after Thursday, and Fitch on Tuesday put the U.S. credit rating on a negative watch.
Aside from easing the concerns on Wall Street, passage will give the two parties a framework for working together, at least for a few months. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said she and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would hold a breakfast meeting Thursday to start the budget conference that both chambers agreed to tonight.