Sit down, gridlock.
After years on the bench, compromise is taking a turn in Congress in the form of a budget deal that is modest in size yet marks a major step away from brinkmanship and shutdowns and talk of default and cliffs.
For both sides of the aisle, there are parts of the deal to love and parts to hate.
We give you the lowdown.
1. We're not out of the woods yet
Though the House and Senate leaders on the negotiating panel reached a deal, it still must be passed by the respective chambers. A House vote is expected as early as today, with the Senate following suit next week. If no approval is given by Jan. 15, another partial government shutdown will begin. Even assuming this latest deal does pass, it does not raise the debt ceiling, which sets up Congress for another budget fight in February.
2. Neither side is entirely pleased
Many Republicans are unhappy that the deal includes increased spending, about $63 billion over the next two years. “The default, to do nothing, was a win for conservatives,” said S.C. Rep. Mick Mulvaney.
Democrats are displeased that the agreement did not include an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, scheduled to expire Dec. 28. The Department of Labor estimates that the expiration will affect 16,700 workers in Nebraska and 35,500 in Iowa. In the House, 166 Democrats signed a letter to Speaker John Boehner urging him to keep the body in session until it can address the issue.
3. Neither side is entirely displeased
Republicans and Democrats alike managed to protect programs dear to them. Democrats blocked GOP efforts to make changes to Medicare and Social Security. Republicans for their part kept the deal from including any changes to corporate tax structure. Most observers expect the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, as it's formally known, to pass.
Former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican who was co-chairman of a national deficit-reduction panel in 2010, predicted that the agreement will eventually be enacted after the “bleating of the lambs and the pounding of the chests” by lawmakers.
4. You could feel the effects
The changes made by budget negotiators will touch the lives of millions of Americans. How? Fliers will see security fees go up about $6 on a typical round-trip ticket. Working-age military retirees will see pared back cost of living adjustments in their retirement benefits. And the deal could hit your stock portfolio. The announcement of an agreement led to a steep fall on Wall Street on Wednesday, as traders worried that a deal could mean the Federal Reserve will end its stimulus programs.
5. A win for compromise?
In what seems a perpetually gridlocked capital, the deal — modest though it is — could signal a newfound willingness to work across the aisle after years of brinkmanship. Both sides admitted that they fell short of their wish lists, but both also expressed pleasure with the finished compromise, a novelty in an environment that seems to have been dominated until recently by all-or-nothing mindsets.
“We understand in this divided government we're not going to get everything we want,” said GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, one of the deal's major brokers. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the agreement “a breath of fresh air.”