Huge week passes; another one looms just ahead

Well, that was some week in Washington, D.C.

Just when you thought the nation might default on its debt obligations and part of the federal government would remain shuttered, two senior U.S. senators pulled a rabbit out of their hats to produce a deal that prevented both things from happening.

The government reopened Thursday. President Obama signed legislation that puts more money into the Treasury from which the government can pay its bills.

What happens now? Well, that remains anyone’s guess. The solution, if you want to call it that, lasts only until early 2014. The government’s money runs out in January and the nation hits its borrowing limit — again — in February.

I’m hoping the experts who’ll show up on PBS’s news shows will help us understand better what is about to happen.

The legislation signed into law now requires congressional budget committee chairs — Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — to lead a bipartisan effort to forge a long-term budget deal. They have until the middle of December to get the job done.

What if they don’t? No one wants to talk about that.

Many experts — and perhaps we’ll hear from them on the PBS NewsHour, which airs at 6 p.m. on PanhandlePBS — think we’ll inch our way back to the brink.

The president said Thursday that there “are no winners” emerging from the settlement cobbled together at the last minute. The task now is to get a long-term deal done that prevents this kind of financial terror from recurring.

Will the bipartisan congressional leadership team be up to the task? They’d better. This is why we pay them the big bucks.

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