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Obama Signs Law Ending Shutdown

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama said politicians now needed to "earn back the trust of the American people."

U.S. President Barack Obama said politicians now needed to "earn back the trust of the American people."

President Barack Obama has signed into law legislation that avoids a U.S. financial default and reopens the government after a 16-day partial shutdown.

The White House said Obama signed the law shortly after it was approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The White House's budget office said federal workers should expect to return to work the morning of October 17. During the shutdown, tens of thousands of federal workers had been furloughed, or told to stay home without pay.

The vote in the House of Representatives was 285-144, with 198 lawmakers from President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party voting "yes," along with 87 Republicans.

The vote in the Senate was 81-18.

The votes came after weeks of political deadlock, with Republicans demanding changes to Obama’s health-care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, passed in 2010.

The law survived the crisis unscathed. But Republicans have vowed they will continue to make the law an issue in upcoming budget debates.

Lawmakers had been facing an October 17 deadline, when the government was expected to reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and would no longer have the legal authority to borrow funds to meet the government’s obligations.

The new legislation provides only a short-term solution. It restores government funding through January 15 and extends the government’s borrowing authority through February 7.

Analysts say that barring the appearance of a new spirit of cooperation in Washington, lawmakers could be embroiled in a similar standoff early in 2014.

'Governing By Crisis'

In brief comments to reporters on October 16, Obama thanked lawmakers for reaching a compromise and said it is now time to "earn back the trust of the American people."

Obama appealed to lawmakers to stop their brinksmanship and what he described as Washington’s "habit of governing by crisis."

Obama pledged a willingness to negotiate with Republicans to avoid another similar crisis in the future.

"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," Obama said.

The Congressional action was swiftly welcomed by Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who had warned of possible damage to the world economy because of the U.S. political deadlock.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the global economy had avoided a "potential catastrophe."

During the shutdown, which began on October 1, the start of the fiscal year, funding was continued for "essential" operations like defense and air-traffic control.

But national parks and a wide range of agencies were closed.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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