The Senate voted and passed a continuing resolution on Monday to reopen the Federal Government after it had failed to agree on a budget last Friday. Blame has fallen on both sides. Those on the left have blamed the Republicans for not keeping it running despite their congressional majority, and those on the right have blamed the Democrats for filibustering the vote. There were a group of moderate senators from both sides, however, that worked together to create a temporary solution to keep the government funded for the next 18 days.

'I needed order'

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) arranged for two dozen moderate senators from both parties to cram into her office and wait their turn to voice their opinion by passing around a Masai tribal Talking Stick. Moderates from both parties were frustrated by the government shutdown last Friday and wished to have a place of dialogue so that they could share their opinions.

Sen. Collins said that when "government shuts down it represents the ultimate failure to govern," and that she "needed order." The group that she pulled together has been around for some time, calling themselves the Common Sense Coalition.

Each senator could voice his or her opinion, but they were only allowed to do so if they were holding the "talking stick." This would keep the group from interrupting and breaking out into arguments.

Sen. Collins' talking stick was a gift to her from Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota). Apparently, this was the most effective method the US Senate could muster to have a debate.

'That was the critical first step'

While the talking stick might sound childish, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was proud that it resulted in the government reopening.

"That was the critical first step." She then added: "now the real work begins."

Both Republicans and Democrats have praised Sen. Collins for her efforts. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said that her "office is Switzerland" and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) said that "We can make a lasting difference in how the Senate of the United States works."

Even though cooperation was happening, it didn't come without misfortune.

According to The Hill, one of the senators in the meeting "forcefully delivered" the talking stick to a fellow senator, chipping a decorative glass elephant in the process. According to CNN, the incident was treated with good humor and everyone laughed about it. The talking stick was then replaced with a rubber basketball.

The Senate overwhelmingly voted yes on a continuing resolution to reopen the government on Monday and the president signed it immediately. The government is currently funded through February 8.