News / USA

US Shutdown Ends

Congress Approves Bill to Reopen Governmenti
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October 17, 2013
U.S. federal workers are to begin returning to work Thursday morning, after Congress approved a bill to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. President Barack Obama has signed the measure into law, ending a political stalemate and avoiding a potential U.S. debt default. VOA's Richard Green has the details.

Congress Approves Bill to Reopen Government

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Cindy Saine
— Congress has put an end to three weeks of drama, deadlock and danger to the global economy as both the House and Senate passed a bill to re-open the federal government and extend the government's credit limit just hours ahead of a possible default. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in the early hours of Thursday as yet another U.S. budget crisis was resolved on the brink of disaster.
 
Federal workers were advised to return to work Thursday morning. The Smithsonian Institution - which includes most of the famous museums that line the National Mall in Washington, D.C. - tweeted that its facilities will be open Thursday, with the National Zoo to reopen on Friday.

The House vote came late Wednesday night after a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns on Capitol Hill and less than two hours before the credit extension deadline. The bill will keep the government running until at least January 15 and raise the borrowing limit enough to put off the risk of default until at least February 7. In the meantime, lawmakers will negotiate on spending cuts.

Details of the Deal

  • Reopens and funds the government until January 15, 2014
  • Raises the debt limit until February 7, 2014
  • Requires the government confirm the eligibility of people receiving federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act
  • Sets up negotiating committee  to develop long term budget plan
  • Provides back pay to furloughed federal workers
The bill passed with mostly Democratic votes. Fewer than 90 Republicans voted for it, and none of the Republican House leaders came to the floor to speak in the final debate.  The pressure had been on House Speaker John Boehner, who earlier in the day conceded that Republicans lost this round of a bitter standoff with Democratic President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.  Boehner spoke to WLW Radio in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
 
 “We have been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare, we fought the good fight, we just did not win,” said Boehner.
 
House Democratic Minority leader Nancy Pelosi had been asking Boehner to bring a “clean” bill to the floor that would fund the government and extend the debt ceiling with no restrictions on either.  She said House Democrats would help him pass it and end the shutdown.  Pelosi had harsh words for Boehner and House Republicans for the damage caused to the U.S. economy and working Americans during the 16 days of a government shutdown.
 
“My colleagues, do you think that your recklessness was worth 24 billion dollars to our economy?” asked Pelosi, referencing an estimate by economists that the government shutdown has cost the U.S. economy an estimated 24 billion dollars. 
 
House Republicans triggered the shutdown on October 1 by linking passage of a government funding bill to a provision to derail President Obama’s health care law.  A core group of some 30-40 House Republicans, some closely aligned with the so-called Tea Party, strongly oppose the Affordable Care Act, along with a few Republican senators. 
 
The bill that ends the standoff extends U.S borrowing authority into February, avoiding the potentially devastating consequences to the global economy from a default on the U.S. debt.  The U.S. Treasury had said the credit limit needed to be raised by October 17 to guarantee that the United States can borrow enough money to pay its bills.
 
Earlier Wednesday evening, the Senate passed the same bill by a vote of 81 to 18, demonstrating strong bipartisan support to end the stalemate that had threatened to trigger a downgrade of the U.S. credit.  The two votes paved the way for large parts of the U.S. government to reopen as early as Thursday.
 
Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel told VOA he hopes the shutdown and debt limit standoff has not caused lasting damage to the United States' standing in the world.
 
“We walked right up to the precipice, we did not jump over.  I think if we had jumped over, God forbid, it would have had lasting damage.  So I think that this is repairable,” said Engel.
 
Speaking after the Senate vote but before the House vote, President Obama thanked congressional leaders for coming together to get a deal done, and called on everyone to put the last three weeks behind them and move forward.
 
“We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” said Obama.
 
President Obama said that after being consumed by the budget crises in recent weeks, the White House and Congress can now turn their attention to pressing issues such as passing immigration reform and a farm bill.  As part of the deal, House and Senate leaders also agreed to appoint members to a budget conference committee to tackle the divisive issues of spending priorities. That committee is set to start work Thursday.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 17, 2013 9:21 AM
Congratulations USA, you’re out of the woods, out of the grips of a debts default, if only temporarily, though the picture becomes gloomier, more sinister, as the debts are not going down but up. But this shutdown provided a good insight into the country called USA which the world looks up to as the model of modern democracy. We look at the game plan of the Republicans and the Democrats. On these pages I have proffered a suggestion that normal human societies always do have their agreements and disagreements, which was what happened during the shutdown. And even within the same parties, such replay of yes and no proves that they are true human societies whereas its absence simply suggests something uncanny. It goes beyond the US economy, debt ceiling and budgeting in USA.

We saw how divided the Republicans were while it lasted, and how the Democrats were so locked up as if all of them were just one man. As a bandwagon effect, it provides an avenue of dependency and lack of individual freedoms to think and act independently. The very perfect lock up of the Democrats without a single divergent view makes it less than a human society, a dangerous precedence – though only seen in societies where people make a pretense of democracy while actually ruling by autocratic principles; where there is multiparty but only one winning the majority vote always, with multiparty system only used to deceive outsiders that there is multiparty democracy in place.

The fear is that with what we have seen of the Democrats during the shutdown, USA is just headed for a reversal of its own edifices and hallmark, the collapse of the multiparty democracy and a clamp on the general freedoms and a return to a socialist economic system. Obamacare has laid the foundation for it. With an overwhelming support the president and his party, and a serious draw down on Republican support – press reports available are anything to go by – the Americans appear gearing toward one party state, a sign that the Democrats may have won the 2016 elections with no vote yet cast. Only the Americans understand how it feels, but no one outside USA expected it the way it has gone. If it is this way in the USA, how will it replicate in other parts of the world, especially in the third world and budding democracies? However my kudos go to the Republicans for being truly democratic and patriotic, and for agreeing to vote in favor of restarting the American economy. The Democrats, by what we have seen them do here, would not have allowed it if they were in control.


by: Bearman from: U.S.A.
October 17, 2013 8:13 AM
Just another dog and pony show brought to one and all by the community organizer and chief, Barrack Obama. Whether democrat or republican, no one seems to grasp the idea of spending within one's means. They should be required to wear clown suits to their respective chambers. What a circus.

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