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US Government Shutdown Ends

The U.S. federal government is back to business following a 16 day partial shutdown.

Congress approved a compromise bill to avoid a potential debt default and fund the government late Wednesday. President Barack Obama immediately signed the bill into law.

It will keep the government running until at least January 15 and raises the borrowing limit to put off the risk of default until at least February 7. In the meantime, lawmakers will negotiate spending cuts.

Federal workers began returning to work Thursday. The Smithsonian Institution has reopened its famous museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and the National Zoo is to reopen Friday.

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

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

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

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

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 said he would not negotiate changes in the law until the government reopened.

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 plan.