As the clock ticked down to the midnight deadline to raise the debt limit, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, praised a deal on the debt limit and to end the partial government shutdown struck within the Senate early Wednesday afternoon, yet said underlying issues still need to be addressed.
The deal reached between U.S. Sens. Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will re-open and fund the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit until Feb. 7.
More good news came as the afternoon progressed Wednesday as House Speaker John Boehner urged fellow Republicans to support the measure. The Senate was expected to pass the agreement, followed by a House vote.
Casey said he would prefer the debt ceiling deadline to be December 2014, for which he said he voted.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, concurred.
"The concern would be we're going to suffer another round of brinkmanship in early next year ... when they try to resolve these issues," Zandi said.
However, this deal is better than no deal, Casey said.
"Even putting in place ... a short-term plan for the current fiscal year will be critically important," Casey said.
The timing of the bill's passage would either push the U.S. economy into further recovery or a deeper recession, Zandi said.
The repercussions of not passing a bill by November would be catastrophic, Zandi said. It would cause as massive a recession as the Great Recession from which the nation is emerging, he said.
Yet the preconditions for a healthy and growing economy are in place - if the uncertainty caused by these repeated and ongoing crises would be eliminated, he said.
"If policy makers can reasonably get it together and get off the front pages for a while, I am very optimistic that a private economy is going to take off," Zandi said.
He noted that "businesses have been restructured, the banking system is on solid financial ground, credit is increasingly flowing to consumers and businesses," and consumer debt is down.
"The only missing ingredient is a little rational lawmaking in Washington," Zandi said.
This political turmoil has an impact on the economy and the social consciousness of Americans, Casey and Zandi said.
"These ongoing, steady battles over the shutdown and debt ceiling, this uncertainty is having an impact. It is corrosive on the economy, over a period of months and years," Zandi said.
Casey has received a host of letters from his constituents, and one Pennsylvania woman wrote her 80-year-old mother couldn't sleep at night wondering if she would get her Social Security checks.
What Americans really want to see, Casey said, is that Washington get back to work on underlying issues, not debate whether the nation should pay the bills.
"It is literally like ordering a nice meal and when the bill comes, saying we're not sure if we should pay. No one can get away with this, and Congress shouldn't pretend it's not our obligation," Casey said.
Instead, "we have to get back to the business American people expect us to: They want us to come together in a bipartisan way to focus on the middle class, job creation and the economy," Casey said.
U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station, did not respond to requests for phone interviews.