BREAKING: President Obama signed the bill to reopen the government
President Obama delivers a speech on the shutdown at the White House on Wednesday.
Congress passed a bipartisan bill Wednesday to end the 16-day partial government shutdown and avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt, just hours before the deadline. President Obama quickly signed the bill into law early Thursday.
The Senate voted first, 81-18, clearing the way for a final 285-144 vote in the Republican-controlled House just two hours later, ending weeks of negotiations and bitter partisan fighting.
The law funds the government through Jan. 15, 2014 and allows the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7. It also calls for an agreement by mid-December on a long-term budget plan and grants back pay to an estimated 800,000 furloughed federal workers.
The White House budget office said the furloughed employees “should expect to return to work in the morning.”
“In the days ahead, we will work closely with departments and agencies to make the transition back to full operating status as smooth as possible,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said.
Officials at Yosemite National Park and Alcatraz announced the national parks had already reopened Wednesday night after Congress approved the deal. All 401 national parks and monuments will soon reopen to the public.
“Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. We’ll begin reopening our government immediately,” President Obama said after the Senate vote. “And we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.” The president is scheduled to speak again at 10:35 a.m. ET Thursday on the reopened government.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said after the vote that the U.S. would continue to pay its bills.
“Because of today’s efforts, we will continue to honor all of our commitments — a core American value — and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States,” Lew said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced the deal on the Senate floor earlier Wednesday, drawing immediate support from the White House.
“We finally achieved our goal but frankly we ended up where we started,” Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said after the vote. “When we started we said we would fund the government, pay our bills and then we would negotiate. We started there, and that’s where we ended up.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who led the charge against President Obama’s health care law in a marathon 21-hour speech before the shutdown, slammed the bill.
“This is a terrible deal,” Cruz said on the Senate floor before the vote. “This deal embodies everything about the Washington establishment that frustrates the American people.”
House Speaker John Boehner conceded the battle, driven largely by tea party Republicans to scrap the Affordable Care Act, was over.
“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” Boehner said.
In addition to funding the government, the bill quietly included nearly $3 billion for a Kentucky dam project and $174,000 for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s widow, Bonnie. Lautenberg’s estimated net worth was at least $56.8 million in 2012.