President Obama signed a Congress-approved deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling on the night of Oct. 16. Government employees have been asked to return to work on the morning of Oct. 17.
Government workers, rejoice! The Senate and the House of Representatives passed a bill to reopen the government on Oct 16, after a long and frustrating 16-day shutdown. As promised, President Barack Obama signed the spending measure as soon as it hit his desk on Oct. 17. Read on for more details.
Congress Ends Government Shutdown To Avoid Default — Debt Ceiling Raised
The Senate voted 81-18 in favor of the deal, and the House voted 285-144 in favor, Time reports.
“This has been a long, challenging few weeks for Congress and for the country. It’s my hope that today we can put some of those most urgent issues behind us,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the Senate floor at 12:42 p.m. “After yesterday’s events, the majority leader and I began a series of conversations about a way to get the government reopened and to prevent default. I’m confident we’ll be able to do both those things later today.”
Thankfully, he was right. The deal will give the government funding until Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit until Feb. 7 to avoid a default on U.S. debt. If the Treasury defaulted, it would have been the first time in U.S. history.
After the Senate vote but before the House vote, President Obama said in a statement, “I want to thank the leaders of both parties for getting us to this point. Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. We’ll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people. ”
The President promised he would “have more to say about this tomorrow,” after he signed the bill around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 17. “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I am willing to work with anybody, I am eager to work with anybody — Democrat or Republican, House or Senate members — on any idea that will grow our economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class, and get our fiscal house in order for the long term.”
The news comes at an absolutely crucial time. The Treasury Department was expected to expend their borrowing privileges no later than Oct. 17, leaving the federal government with no more than $30 billion on hand, Bloomberg reported.
The federal government reopened on Oct. 17 and federal employees also returned to work.
U.S. Government Shut Down On Oct. 1
Because Congress could not agree on a budget, the U.S. federal government shut down all non-essential departments and services on Oct. 1.
President Obama was against the shutdown from its inception, calling it an “ideological demand.”
“The idea of putting the American people’s hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility, and it doesn’t have to happen,” he said at the White House on Sept. 30, just one day before the shutdown.
He said it would also “throw a wrench into the gears of our economy.”
Thousands of government workers were furloughed due to the shutdown, without knowing when they would return to work.
— Ivy Jacobson