Government reopens after Congress ends 16-day shutdown

Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Patty Murray
J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks with reporters after voting on a measure to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after a partial, 16-day shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, as Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., listen. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government reopened its doors Thursday after a battle-weary Congress approved a bipartisan measure to end a 16-day partial shutdown and avert the possibility of an economy-jarring default on U.S. obligations.

Early Thursday, President Barack Obama signed the measure, which the House and Senate passed late Wednesday, ending a brawl with Republicans who tried to use the must-pass legislation to mount a last-ditch effort to derail the president's landmark health care law and demand concessions on the budget.

The White House directed all agencies to reopen promptly and in an orderly fashion. Furloughed federal employees across the country are expected to return to work Thursday.

The impasse had shuttered national parks and monuments, and mostly closed down NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department. Critical functions of government went on as usual and most federal employees won't see their paychecks delayed, but the closure and potential default weighed on the economy and spooked the financial markets.

There were signs early Thursday that the federal government was slowly coming back to life. "We're back from the #shutdown!" the Smithsonian Institution crowed on Twitter, announcing that museums would reopen Thursday and the National Zoo in Washington on Friday.

Standard & Poor's estimated the shutdown has taken $24 billion out of the economy, and the Fitch credit rating agency warned Tuesday that it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for a possible downgrade.

Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill were the decisive winners in the fight, which was sparked by tea party Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who prevailed upon skeptical GOP leaders to use a normally routine short-term funding bill to "defund" the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare.

"We fought the good fight. We just didn't win," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded in a radio interview. He was given positive reviews from Republicans for his handling of the crisis, though it again exposed the tenuous grasp he holds over the fractious House GOP conference.

The agreement was brokered by the Senate's top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and its Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. They stepped in after the House was unable to coalesce around a Republican-only approach Tuesday.

McConnell is up for re-election next year, and his tea party primary opponent issued a statement blasting his role.

"When the stakes are highest, Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out conservatives," Matt Bevin said. In the House, conservatives praised Boehner for tenacity.

The Senate approved the legislation by an 81-18 vote; the House followed suit by a tally of 285-144, with 87 Republicans in favor and 144 against, breaking an informal rule in which a majority of the majority party is supposed to carry legislation. Democrats unanimously supported the bill, even though it locks in funding at levels required by across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

The legislation would fund the government through Jan. 15 and permit it to borrow normally through Feb. 7, though Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew retains the capacity to employ accounting maneuvers to create wiggle room on the debt limit into mid-March or so.

The shutdown sent GOP approval ratings numbers reeling in public opinion polls and exasperated veteran lawmakers who saw it and the possibility of default as folly.

"After two long weeks, it is time to end this government shutdown. It's time to take the threat of default off the table," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said before the vote. "It's time to restore some sanity to this place."

Most House Republicans opposed the compromise bill for failing to do anything about deficits and debt.

"All this does is delay this fight four months," Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said. "We need to get to the underlying cause of the problem, which is our out-of-control spending and deficits, and fix it before it's too late and we go down the toilet to bankruptcy because that's where America is headed."

The bill's passage was only a temporary truce that sets up another collision between Obama and Republicans over spending and borrowing early next year. It's the second time this year that Congress has passed legislation to increase the government's borrowing cap with few if any conditions on the president, reversing a 2011 precedent in which the threat of default was used to extract $2.1 trillion in spending cuts from a politically wounded Obama.

"With the shutdown behind us," Obama said after the Senate vote, "we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair and that helps hardworking people all across this country."

At the same time, House-Senate talks will begin on a broader budget pact in hopes of curbing deficits and easing across-the-board budget cuts that have slammed the Pentagon and domestic agencies alike. Such agreements have proven elusive in the current era of divided government.

"No one thinks this will be easy" Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said of budget negotiations. Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., along with their ranking minority members, immediately scheduled a breakfast meeting for Thursday to break the ice.

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Comments

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

"Divide and conquer." It's

"Divide and conquer." It's happening. Just read these comments.

Bob Stone's picture

Re-Opened --- LOL

17% of federal employees returned to join the 83% that never stopped working.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

McCain nails it hard; Senate leader had it right on the mark

....Calling the fiscal showdown a "shameful" and "agonizing odyssey," McCain said Wednesday on the Senate floor that at the very least the episode brought together a bipartisan band of 14 senators who crafted a deal that looked very much like the one that Senate leaders ultimately unveiled.

And while McCain didn't mention Cruz or Lee in his floor speech, it was clear he was talking about the tea party pair whom he has previously blamed for starting Congress down the path to crisis.

"I think it's obvious that we are now seeing the end of this agonizing odyssey that this body has been put through, but far more importantly, the American people have been put through. It's one of the more shameful chapters that I have seen in the years that I have spent here in the Senate," McCain said before declaring there was now a bulwark against future ideological bids for disruption.

"The fact that 14 of us were able to join together, Republican and Democrat," McCain said.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

This all cost $24 Billion and who knows what else yet?

Repubs/Tbaggers demanded for…
• Defund Obamacare
• Delay Obamacare
• Delay Individual Mandate
• Deny coverage to the President
• Deny Coverage to the Cabinet
• Deny coverage to Congressional staffers
• Deny birth control coverage
• Approve Keystone Pipeline
• Means – testing for Medicare
• Change Federal Employee Pensions
• Expand oil drilling
• Block net neutrality
• Tort reform
• Weaken regulations for Coal-fired power plants
• Tax code changes
• Thwart EPA coal ash regulations
• Repeal Medical device Tax
• Change house rules on debt ceiling

They got …
NOTHING and COST the economy $24 BILLION

Not to f'in smart....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

The Biggest Threat To The Economy Is Washington, Experts Say

But Washington's policy blunders in recent years have significantly slowed economic growth and kept roughly 2 million people out of work, according to recent estimates.

Steep spending cuts are a big reason. But the governance-by-crisis also may be prompting businesses to sit on their cash rather than building new factories, buying more equipment and hiring more workers, some economists say.

"Increasingly I'm of the view that the reason why our economy can't kick into a higher gear is because of the uncertainty created by Washington," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics.

There you have it, Cantor, McCarthey, Bonehead and the extreme right radical need to go...

Jeff Wilkins's picture

Regardless

Regardless of the politics at play here, it's terrifying to think that our government can't pay interest on the money borrowed unless they borrow more money.

I can't understand how anything thinks that's acceptable.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

What 's acceptable

Sometimes what 's acceptable is not in line with reality. Suppose, for example, you lost your job. Would you stop eating? Paying the electric bill? Or would you use your savings to try to tide you over. Or maybe you would use the credit card in a real pinch in the hopes that you would find a job and be able to pay things off. We have just gone through the worst economic downturn since the thirties. The solution could have been to starve the people and the economy and let the rich hoard their wealth or to borrow to tide people and businesses over until the economy recovers. What is not helpful are the constant attempts by the right wing to ding the economy to make sure Obama does not have a good economic recovery. All the uncertainty in our politics is costing us billions in economic growth which would have gone to lowering the debt. It is as if your search for a new job is hampered by someone going around spreading lies to all of your potential employers because they hate you. It definitely makes recovery and paying off the debt more complicated.

Bob White's picture

Claire very good point

"rich hoard their wealth " you said it right Claire THEIR wealth. Not yours not mine THEIRS so why shouldn't they keep it they earned it. We don't take their debit or yours or mine so why should we take the good things? We shouldn't be jealous of someone's success we all have the opportunity to do the same. I Know why it is in the best interest for the Democrats to keep people down, this way they can keep giving them bits and pieces they become dependent and that buys votes but you people are to stupid to figure that out.

Jeff Wilkins's picture

Responsibility

We're borrowing money to pay interest on borrowed money. If you don't see that as a problem, then there's no real point in having any conversation. Your blind allegiance to a politician who couldn't care less about you is a real problem and is what is dividing this country. It doesn't matter what side your on, there's enough blame to go around.

Jeff Wilkins's picture

Whoops

Anyone, not anything.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The awakening

So today the government is reopened and all it cost us was $25 billion in economic growth and a $2 billion dollar pork goodie for Senator McConnell. Coming from people who ranted about the debt the whole time this seems insane. Then I learned that the father of Senator Cruz is a far right wing religious preacher who has raised him to believe he has been" anointed" by God to be a King. And it is his mission to redistribute the wealth in this country to the righteous. Now it makes sense. In the way that Manson's followers made sense. Republicans need to stop calling for Democrats and Obama to negotiate. First of all Boehner can't negotiate because he cannot control his caucus therefore his promises are worthless and secondly some (about 170 of them) Republicans have joined a cult and you cannot talk to someone in a cult until they are reprogrammed. They are already bragging that they plan to do this to us again in January. It will be a long winter.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

And your sources are?

And your sources are?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

It's almost comical..........

It would appear that the Republican Radicals, and we all know who they are, are living in a perpetual state of denial. John Boehner, states "we fought the good fight, but we lost", Those are not the words I want to hear from the leader of the worst possible economic disaster to almost hit this country. He still doesn't seem to realize the enormity of what they almost caused.
We still have a long way to go, to restore this Government back to functional..........

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Set up the gallows

Gather up the tbaggers and radical repubs and put them on the gallows row....

It is treasonist to see what they will do to eliminate just one issue....ObamaCare.........

Bob White's picture

"Those are not the words I

"Those are not the words I want to hear from the leader of the worst possible economic disaster to almost hit this country." Frank hate to tell you this but Boehner isn't the leader of the USA the President is our leader. I'm sure if you ask someone in another country who the leader of the USA is they sure wont say Boehner.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Bob, try to keep up...........

I never said the leader of the USA. Bob, you need to watch those details...........

Bob White's picture

We know Frank what you were

We know Frank what you were trying to say

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Jerry didn't say that Boehner was the leader of the USA,

He said and he's correct that Boehner was the leader of the worst economic disaster. The President does not rule the House of Representatives. The Speaker is expected to. Now when you have 144 traitors in the House it is a bit difficult to have the house work in the national interest. We can correct that in 2014 and should want to. They have done this twice in 20 years and until they wreck the economy and throw tens of millions out of work they will not be satisfied.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

They, losers to the eection, are happy for themselves

That the economy lost $24 BILLION plus to go after a LAW of ACA that was upheld by the SCOTUS.

They are proud of the repubs/tbaggers for stifling growth in this country to do battle in 2014 and 2016 so they can build an argument of the Dems did this! Ask whack jobs like Bachmann, King, Blackburn, Gohmer and the other morons that Repub Americans elected....

Do they think for one moment these baggers when they leave office give a horses pa-tut what happens as long as they get "What's in for me" and walk away making millions? You can tell that of those I just mentioned and the followers of those idiots are missing many chromosomes of any intelligence and live for ideology.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

They are whack jobs, but you give them too little credit.

These folks hate the federal government either because they are religious fanatics who think we are in the "end times" or they are racists who think that integration is a crime or they are predators who can't stand someone asking them to adhere to minimal standards of human behavior. Whichever they are, they are very dangerous. Each is willing to destroy anything and everything to achieve their personal vision of what life should be like. And they are getting frustrated. They tried the Republican party and it failed them - fiscally irresponsible, socially liberal, and infected with multiculturalism. So they joined the Tea Party - billionaires astro-turf faux-grassroots puppets. Now that's failed them. None of the folks you mentioned is President. They tried to bankrupt the country 2001-2009; that failed. They tried to crash the economy yesterday that failed. Next they'll impeach the President because he's black and that will fail. What's next. Real violence. Not just talk of secession, but violent underground action. The Army of God but numbering in the tens of thousands not hundreds. If we stop them now, maybe not.
But these are intelligent, committed, anarchists backed by billionaires.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

They are whack jobs, but you give them too little credit.

These folks hate the federal government either because they are religious fanatics who think we are in the "end times" or they are racists who think that integration is a crime or they are predators who can't stand someone asking them to adhere to minimal standards of human behavior. Whichever they are, they are very dangerous. Each is willing to destroy anything and everything to achieve their personal vision of what life should be like. And they are getting frustrated. They tried the Republican party and it failed them - fiscally irresponsible, socially liberal, and infected with multiculturalism. So they joined the Tea Party - billionaires astro-turf faux-grassroots puppets. Now that's failed them. None of the folks you mentioned is President. They tried to bankrupt the country 2001-2009; that failed. They tried to crash the economy yesterday that failed. Next they'll impeach the President because he's black and that will fail. What's next. Real violence. Not just talk of secession, but violent underground action. The Army of God but numbering in the tens of thousands not hundreds. If we stop them now, maybe not.
But these are intelligent, committed, anarchists backed by billionaires.

Mark Wrenn's picture

$24 billion

The teatoddler shutdown cost the government $24 billion. Some fiscal sanity, huh?

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

"teatoddler?"

"teatoddler?"

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Reality check

To repubs/tbaggers is like sticking their head in a 55 gal drum of spent fuel and lighting a match to see inside.
-------------
It set up 16 days of furloughed federal workers, closed parks, halted safety inspections, and the estimated loss of $24 billion in economic activity. WTF.....

These insane repubs/tbaggers are the larger expense and danger to Americans because of the way they think they can hold government seats (Civil servants is what they are) and toy with American lives and much worse the Economy on a whole in this country and the world with the after affect of their stupid we will hold the government as hostage to get what they want..

Randall Pond's picture

It's Hell

High Time House of Representative Leader Republican John Boehner Needs to Stop Acting along with his So Called Tea Party Republican Cohorts like a BUNCH OF LITTLE SPOILED ROTTEN BRAT CHILDREN GROW AND DO THE JOB YOU WERE ELECTED TO DO OR GET THE HELL OUT OF OFFICE AND LET PEOPLE DO THE JOB THAT ARE FOR THE LITTLE GUY NOT THE CORPORATE CRONIES!

YOU ARE ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE AND ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FOR THE PEOPLE NOT AGAINST US, NOT SCREWING US OVER AND NOT TRYING TO MAKE THE RICH RICHER AND THE POOR POORER! STOP MAKING THE POOR PAY YOUR SHARE OF THINGS!

Pay your half OR GET OUT OF OFFICE!

THE MAJORITY OF YOU IN WASHINGTON DISGUST ME AND I AM ASHAMED TO SAY I AM AN AMERICAN WITH IDIOTS LIKE YOU! RUNNING THIS COUNTRY! GROW UP CONGRESS AND DO YOUR JOB OR WE WILL, REPLACE YOU!

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Get the Picture

144 House Republicans voted last night to keep the Government shutdown i.e. deny checks to social security, Medicare providers, and veterans and to default on our already incurred debts. That's a large majority of Republicans. 18 US Senators joined them in this irresponsible attack on our Government and the people of the United States.
No difference in parties? Not one Democrat, zero, nada joined them.
Remember that in 2014 when the Republicans tell you they are all for job creation.

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