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THE United States wobbled back from the brink of disaster when the Republican House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate agreed to extend borrowing authority into February.

The deal reached late Wednesday night ends the shutdown of the federal government, or at least restarts it through Jan. 15.

As a practical matter, there is little resolution or relief to a mindless dilemma inflicted on the nation by a small circle of tea-party Republicans whose allegiance is to a reckless ideology, not a functioning government and economy.

Right to the very end, these cloistered fanatics were complaining about the absence of structural reforms in the ransom notes that they were sending to end the shutdown.

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Republicans control half of the government’s legislative apparatus. Do they hold hearings and write budgets that propose reforms? No, the parliamentary weapon of choice for a powerful subset was anarchy.

Washington’s entire congressional delegation, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers, voted for the measure. Perhaps if those Republicans had spoken and acted earlier within their party, this might have ended sooner.

This expensive, and essentially unresolved, chaos will haunt the U.S. government in world finances and general credibility. Borrowing may resume, but it will likely cost more.

Meanwhile, those who shut down the government and flirted with default won nothing. The White House held fast to its refusal to bargain basic functions of government and the risk of default.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Budget Committee, will work with her counterpart in the House, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on the next phase of negotiations on tax and spending policies.

As the end neared, Republicans were shuffling their feet and muttering about the need to move ahead. Fine. Remember that after the first of the year, when this whole psychodrama could play out again.

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