Government Reopens After Congress Ends 16-Day Shutdown
WASHINGTON (WWJ/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 legislation permits the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer, and fund the government through Jan. 15. Workers furloughed without pay when the shutdown began Oct. 1 will receive back pay.
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.
Michigan lawmakers had plenty to say about the government reopening, and many are remaining cautiously optimistic about the near future.
Rep. Gary Peters said he’s thankful the shutdown is over because it hurt business in the state and “placed yet another undue burden on all of our families.”
“This shutdown was irresponsible and unnecessary,” Peters said in a statement. “Going forward, Congress must focus on how to improve the economy, create good jobs that support a strong and vibrant middle class, and responsibly tackle our serious fiscal challenges.”
House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel said he’s glad Congress “put partisan politics aside” to reach an agreement, but he’s disappointed they couldn’t come up with a more permanent solution.
“This type of short-term governing is no way to run our federal government,” Greimel said in a statement. “After more than two weeks of unprecedented division and gridlock, it’s time to move our country forward once again. I’m grateful for the work of leaders in Congress who did what is right for the American people.”
While he thinks it’s important to open the government, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio said he cannot support Congress’ resolution because it “does absolutely nothing to stop Obamacare’s ability to destroy our healthcare and our economy.”
“Once Obamacare takes effect, taxpayers will be on the hook for nearly 1.8 trillion dollars over the next 10 years – some of which will have to be borrowed against our children and grandchildren. Additionally, this health care law is already forcing health insurance premiums to rise at an alarming rate, and hardworking Americans are losing their jobs or seeing their hours cut. America cannot afford Obamacare,” Bentivolio said in a statement.
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