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Congress: 'The war has just begun'?

Two Politico headlines: “Obama wins” and “House GOP extracts no concessions.”

The 285 votes in the House last night were two-thirds – 66% -- of everyone who could vote (of the 430). Flashback to Oct. 6 when House Speaker John Boehner claimed: “There are not the votes in the House to pass a clean CR.”

National Journal: “The deficit-ceiling stalemate and 16-day government shutdown cost the economy billions, put tens of thousands out of work, made some little-known congressmen famous, and tested the balance of power in Congress. Yet as lawmakers ended the standoff with a hard-fought agreement, many pointed to a landscape left largely unchanged, with fiscal fights assured in the months ahead and long-standing political differences left unresolved. ‘The battle is over,’ said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., a tea-party favorite who was president of the House GOP freshman class in 2011, ‘but the war has just begun.’”

New York Times: “Congressional Republicans conceded defeat on Wednesday in their bitter budget fight with President Obama over the new health care law as the House and Senate approved last-minute legislation ending a disruptive 16-day government shutdown and extending federal borrowing power to avert a financial default with potentially worldwide economic repercussions. With the Treasury Department warning that it could run out of money to pay national obligations within a day, the Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday evening, 81 to 18, to approve a proposal hammered out by the chamber’s Republican and Democratic leaders after the House on Tuesday was unable to move forward with any resolution. The House followed suit a few hours later, voting 285 to 144 to approve the Senate plan, which would fund the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit through Feb. 7.”

USA Today: “The Senate voted 81-18; The House voted 285-144. Only Republicans opposed the deal in each chamber. Both chambers then adjourned for the rest of the week.”

NBC’s Tom Curry has more on what is and isn’t included in the final bill.

NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “The GOP has little to show for a 16-day government shutdown except dismal headlines and sinking approval ratings. And to top it all off, the party remains as divided as ever….Eleven months removed from an election that saw President Barack Obama win a second term and Democrats perform more strongly than expected in congressional elections, Republicans have made little progress toward rehabilitating the party’s reputation. The GOP’s internal dividing lines remain as stark as ever and the party – at least on Capitol Hill – seems paralyzed when it comes to the business of governing.”

MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin: “Interviews with lawmakers, pundits, and activists across a wide ideological in the final hours of a shutdown Wednesday paint a pessimistic picture of what Congress has learned from the 16-day ordeal. While some argue that Republicans are dropping too sharply in the polls to take such a hard line on budget negotiations again, most believe that the fundamental dynamics haven’t shifted – meaning more shutdowns and possible defaults could be waiting in the wings. The next standoff could come as soon as January, when the new spending agreement ends or in February, when the new debt ceiling level is reached.”

Washington Post’s Paul Kane: “House Speaker John A. Boehner lost the shutdown showdown in ignominious fashion, winning not a single concession of any value from Democrats and exposing his majority as powerless to advance conservative causes. The one thing the Ohio Republican did seem to manage to do was hold onto his job. The always embattled speaker let his recalcitrant conservatives effectively run the show for the past month, and even as they lost badly, he won grudging respect from some who sought to take his gavel away earlier this year.”

Politico: “Not a single House Democrat voted against the plan to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling, a stark contrast to the 144 Republicans who opposed the bill despite urging from their leadership. A full 62 percent of House Republicans voted against the deal — a clear violation of the so-called “Hastert rule,” which mandates a majority of the Republican Conference support any bill that hits the floor.”

“Congress on Wednesday moved to deny itself a pay raise,” AP writes. “It would mark the sixth consecutive year that lawmakers will have acted to make sure they don’t get the annual cost-of-living pay increase they get automatically unless they vote to freeze their pay.”

The Kentucky Kickback? Politico: “Conservative groups ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, accusing him of earmarking $2 billion for a famously troubled lock-and-dam project that would benefit his home state as part of the bill to reopen the government and avert a debt default. ‘It’s the Kentucky Kickback,’ the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is considering backing McConnell’s primary opponent, wrote in a blog post. ‘In exchange for funding Obamacare and raising the debt limit, Mitch McConnell has secured a $2 billion earmark. This is an insult to all the Kentucky families who don’t want to pay for Obamacare and don’t want to shoulder any more debt.’”

Politico: “With the shutdown over and a default averted, Washington has another train wreck to sift through: the Obamacare rollout. Republican critics have plenty to investigate, starting with the $400 million website that doesn’t work and the federal contractor that built it, while asking a more fundamental question: Will it be fixed in time for people to get health coverage early next year.”

Norm Ornstein: “The denigration of public employees—typified by Rep. Darrell Issa’s vitriol directed at the IRS and Rep. Randy Neugebauer’s verbal assault on a park ranger for her work (without pay) at the World War II Memorial, which was shut down because of Neugebauer and his colleagues—represents a phenomenon that is not new but is really awful: the radicalization of so many lawmakers who don’t want limited, but good, government but instead want to blow the whole thing up. They may know not what they do, but sadly, they have the weapons to do it.”