House Passes Debt-Ceiling Deal 269-161 [Update]

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Gabrielle Giffords was the only thing greeted by a standing ovation on the floor tonight. Photo: U.S. Congress

After weeks of arduous negotiations, the House of Representatives voted to pass a deal on the debt ceiling tonight, just hours ahead of a deadline that would theoretically leave the country unable to pay its bills in full. The bill passed with a vote of 269-161, with backing from 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats.

The bill, which will implement at least $2.1 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, raise the debt ceiling, and establish a deficit-reducing congressional committee, is met by unease or ambivalence by many congressional leaders. Nancy Pelosi explained: "I'm not happy with it, but I'm proud of some of the accomplishments in it."

After weeks of tooth-and-nail disagreement, one thing the entire floor could rally behind was the surprise appearance of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who showed up in Washington for the first time since she was shot earlier this year in Arizona. Entering the chamber through a side door, Giffords was greeted by a standing ovation. Her last-minute vote in favor of the bill was followed by the "ayes" needed for the compromise to pass. [NYT]

Update: Most talking heads put their debt-deal opinions on the table last night, but an irate Jon Stewart waited until tonight's Daily Show to sound off particularly hard, lambasting Barack Obama for concessions made during negotiations. "Well, it looks like the Democrats got hosed!" he yelled. He also mocked Obama's decision to thank Americans for their contributions to the deal's progress, saying: "You're not pinning this turd on us." [Gawker]

Update: New York's Frank Rich appeared on Joy Behar tonight to discuss the debt-deal agreement, and emphasized that while everyone was "pushed around and bamboozled, including Boehner and McConnell," the only real winners of the deal are members of the tea party. "They showed that from a minority in the House, they could essentially control everybody," he said, because "the other Republicans are afraid of them." Watch the clip from his appearance below.