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Congress agreement saves US from shutdown for three months; Republicans seriously divided

Thursday, October 17th 2013 - 05:52 UTC
Full article 120 comments
“We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis” said Obama “We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis” said Obama

US Congress has passed a bill to reopen the government and raise the federal debt limit, with hours to spare before the nation risked default. The Democratic-controlled Senate's bipartisan compromise won approval by 81 votes to 18.

The deal was then passed by 285-144 in the House of Representatives, whose Republican leadership begrudgingly agreed to support the measure. It came hours before the deadline to raise the 16.7tn dollars limit.

The bill brings the US back from the brink of a budgetary abyss by extending the treasury's borrowing authority until 7 February. It also funds the government to 15 January, reopening closed federal agencies and bringing hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees back to work.

The White House budget office said federal employees should return to work on Thursday. The deal, however, offers only a temporary solution and does not resolve the budgetary issues that split Republicans and Democrats.

Shortly after Wednesday evening's Senate vote, President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House he would swiftly sign the bill into law. US lawmakers must “earn back the trust of the American people”, he said. “We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” the Democratic president added.

“My hope and expectation is everybody has learned there's no reason why we can't work on the issues at hand, why we can't disagree between the parties without still being agreeable and make sure that we're not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.”

Also speaking after the first vote, Senate Democratic Majority leader Harry Reid said: “Let's be honest, this is pain inflicted on a nation for no good reason and we cannot, cannot make the same mistake again.”

The US Treasury has been using what it called “extraordinary measures” to pay its bills since the nation reached its current debt limit in May. It said those methods would be exhausted by 17 October, leaving the US unable to meet all of its debt and other fiscal obligations.

Politicians, bankers and economists had warned of dire global economic consequences unless an agreement to raise the US government's borrowing limit was reached.

Meanwhile, ratings firm Standard & Poor's said on Wednesday that the partial US government shutdown, the first in 17 years, had already shaved 24bn from the American economy and would cut growth significantly in the fourth quarter.

Spurred on by hard-line conservatives, congressional Republicans forced the shutdown on 1 October by demanding that President Obama de-fund or delay his signature healthcare overhaul.

Congressional Republicans, who have borne the brunt of blame in opinion polls for the budget row, conceded defeat on Wednesday.

“We fought the good fight,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner said as lawmakers lined up to vote on the bill. “We just didn't win.”

Amid warnings that the standoff could damage the party's prospects in next year's midterm elections, the political autopsy has already begun.

“This has been a really bad two weeks for the Republican Party” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

Senator John McCain, who was the party's 2008 presidential nominee, told the upper chamber it had been ”one of the more shameful chapters I have seen in the years I have spent here in the Senate”.

Categories: Economy, Politics, United States.

Top Comments

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  • Casper

    ...and the Space Rangers have come back to Earth. With a thud. And not before time.

    It wasn't a 'good fight', John Boehner - brinkmanship has it's place but not on this occasion.

    Oct 17th, 2013 - 06:29 am 0
  • ElaineB

    To be fair, Boehner was highjacked by the extremes of the GOP. Cruz is the biggest twit.

    But you are right. A small element of the opposition cannot hold a democratically elected government to ransom. If they don't like the Health Care Bill they should try getting elected and change it. Though, I suspect they have just made that a whole lot harder for themselves.

    Actually, the real reason they reached a settlement is that they heard I was flying in later today. :)

    Oct 17th, 2013 - 07:20 am 0
  • Casper


    Yeah, I guess Boehner had to salvage some pride somehow and he is nowhere near as nutty as Cruz and Rand Paul et al, but it's worrying how little authority he has over the Space Ranger element.

    I'm guessing both Cruz and Paul will run in 2015 and, call me cynical, but I wonder if that possibility has anything to with their posture on this issue.

    You're last sentence is intriguing - I had no idea you are so influential. That being so do you think you could persuade these Tea Partiers to lay off the blue pills for awhile?

    Oct 17th, 2013 - 07:52 am 0
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