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Monday Night (Political) Football

Our long national nightmare is very nearly over.

Or it's just beginning...if you believe some of the rhetoric coming from both sides of the aisle in the House tonight.

To borrow a line from Saving Private Ryan, this bill fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

But a long day of running down the deal ended with a surprisingly easy vote to approve it. The House voted on a bill containing the debt-ceiling-and-deficit deal shortly past 7 p.m. as more than 70 percent of the chamber's Republicans voted yes. It was a remarkable triumph for Speaker John Boehner, who four days ago seemed unable to manage his unruly caucus.

With the support of just half the Democrats, the measure still sailed through 269-161.

In the waning moments of the vote, applause and cheers swept across the House floor, prompting many to think the bill had surpassed the threshold of victory. But it turned out the members were discovering a surprise voter in their midst. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) appeared in the House for the first time since she was shot in Tucson, Ariz., in January. Giffords did not speak, but greeted friends and responded with repeated "Thank yous." She voted, and on the winning side.

The dramatic conclusion of the day's stormy events now makes action in the Senate all but anti-climactic. Taking up the bill shortly after the House vote Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the threatened filibuster would not take place but that some of the prospective filibusteros (and yes that is a word) would be allowed to speak against the deal Tuesday morning. Then at noon, the Senate will take up the matter. More than 60 senators are expected to vote in support.

The president, who said he wanted only a deal on the debt ceiling for a 50th birthday present (Aug. 4), is expected to sign the bill on an expedited basis to meet the Aug. 2 deadline set by his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The president will fly Chicago for two fundraising events on Wednesday.

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