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U.S. Government Shutdown Ends

The U.S. federal government is reopening Thursday following a 16 day partial shutdown, after Congress approved a last minute compromise bill to avoid a potential debt default.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law early Thursday morning. It 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.

Members of the House of Representatives approved the plan late Wednesday by a vote of 285 to 144, after it was approved by the Senate earlier in the day (by a vote of 81 to 18).

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.

Mr. Obama has thanked leaders of both parties and said it is time to earn back the lost trust of the American people.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and his Republican colleague Mitch McConnell put together the composite bill Wednesday, a day before the current borrowing authority expired.

Reid called the partial government shutdown and anxiety caused by a possible default a manufactured crisis that inflicted pain on the country for no good reason.

If the debt ceiling was not raised, the United States would lose the authority to borrow money to keep paying its bills.

The government shut down on October 1 when the Senate rejected House demands to defund or delay President Obama's health care law as part of a spending bill. The president has said he will not negotiate any changes in the law until the government reopens.

House Speaker John Boehner said House Republicans fought with everything they had to force negotiations on the law, nicknamed "Obamacare." He said his party will continue to push for legislative oversight and highlight perceived flaws in the scheme.

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