Senator Lisa Murkowski today voted in support of a bill that will fund the federal government, require heightened accountability from the health care reform law and avoid a default on the national debt. Over the past two weeks, Senator Murkowski collaborated with her colleagues Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in advancing a solution that eventually drew the support of 11 additional Senators -- an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. Many elements of the plan they crafted can be seen in today's agreement finalized by the Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader.
In a speech earlier today on the Senate floor with the bipartisan group of Senators who had worked together, Senator Murkowski shared the following observation:
"The thing that I have found encouraging is that there have been a nucleus of folks who would come together as the need arose, or perhaps just for a little moral support, and continue the effort to try and find common ground. We went from a small group to a group of six on each side to a group with seven on each side and I think with every passing day we had more colleagues that were interested in helping and trying to find that common ground
And as we have noted, the agreement that has been reached -- by our respective leaderships -- while it is not the exact one that we came up with, there are certain elements of it that we had helped to shepherd. The news that's coming out today is that there's a deal, there's a deal. And that deal should give America hope. , but it doesn't get us out of the mess that we're in.
The bipartisan agreement that has been reached will fund the government at FY13 levels until January 15, 2013. The spending limits set under the Budget Control Act remain in place, which is key to helping the government rein in spending. The agreement also directs the House and Senate to meet to address the country's $16.9 trillion debt and go to conference on the budget. Income verification from Americans seeking subsidies from the government under the Affordable Health Care Act will be required to prevent fraud and abuse.
Due to Senator Murkowski's efforts, the continuing resolution to fund the government through January 15th, 2013 also rejected language from the Administration to block tribes' ability to bring claims for the failure of the Indian Health Service to pay full Contract Support Costs -- despite a recent Supreme Court ruling requiring full compensation consistent with the federal trust responsibility.
The additional Senators who pursued the Collins/Murkowski/Ayotte solution were Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Angus King (I-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John McCain (R-AZ), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).