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Debt-ceiling deal holds hope of ending Beltway brinkmanship (+video)

House Republicans have used debt ceilings and 'fiscal cliffs' as political levers partly because Democrats in the Senate haven't passed a budget plan in three years. Now, that will change.

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The House of Representatives moved America away from another teeth-gritted trip to the edge of a financial abyss Wednesday by approving a measure that would put off a fight on the federal debt ceiling from mid-February to mid-May.

It is a bit more than the typical Washington kick-the-can-down-the-road move. In some ways, it could give Washington a road map to figuring out its fiscal situation with a little more regular order and a lot less brinkmanship.

That's because, simultaneously, Senate Democrats have agreed to pass a budget plan – something they hadn't done the previous three years. As a result, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree, much of the wrangling over America's fiscal future could be channeled away from manufactured debt-ceiling crises and "fiscal cliffs" and into an actual budget debate.


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