A debt-crisis solution looms, imperiling home-improvement projects of government workers

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell heads to the floor after a closed-door meeting with Republican senators this morning.
  • AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell heads to the floor after a closed-door meeting with Republican senators this morning.
The clouds have finally broken in Washington: the New York Times reports that Senate leaders from both parties struck a deal this morning that would reopen government and extend its borrowing power. The legislation could pass both houses and be signed by President Obama before the day is out.

As the spouse of a federal worker, I have mixed feelings about the news. On the one hand, the agreement will save the nation from default, which could have wrecked our economy, and caused global calamity as well.

On the other hand, the agreement will soon send my wife back to work, leaving us with a half-painted basement.

Like many federal employees, my wife has spent the shutdown on home-improvement projects that seemed marginally necessary before the troubles in Washington. I'm guessing the shutdown hasn't hurt business at Home Depot and Ace Hardware.

Two weeks ago, ​Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it "really cruel" to assure government workers they'd get back pay when the government reopened, but to not let them immediately return to their jobs. It was like telling them they should just stay home, watch TV, and play chess, Reid said.

The government worker in my home was too busy caulking and priming to watch TV or play chess. It's not yet clear when most federal workers will return to their jobs. But unless she steps things up, the top coat may have to wait until the next government shutdown. Then again, according to the terms of today's proposed deal, that might be only three months away.

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