After 16 days of partial shutdown, the federal government has reopened after the Senate overwhelmingly approved a budget bill. According to Fox News, the short-term bill will fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, just in time to avoid the first debt default in American history.
If a deal wasn’t passed by today, according to CNN, the Treasury Department would have exhausted accounting maneuvers to keep the nation under the legal borrowing limit. Were this to happen, the Treasury would have been forced to pay the nation’s debts using an estimated $30 billion in cash reserves. Economists estimated that these reserves would have lasted no later than early November, at which point economic fallout from the United States’ inability to pay debts would have begun.
The vote came after House Republicans, who hold the majority, said they were ready to back down on their demands that a budget bill include measures to reign in the Affordable Care Act.
Speaker of the House John Boehner affirmed that the House would take up the bill, and that he expected the shutdown to end by today. He told a Cincinnati radio station that Republicans had “fought the good fight, [they] just didn’t win.”
President Barack Obama signed the bill into law late Wednesday night. He said that both branches of Congress need to work together better, and that he will speak in the coming days on avoiding the political brinksmanship that characterized the shutdown.
CNN reported that the Senate bill included a measure to extend current federal spending levels until Jan. 15, and one to raise the debt limit until Feb. 7. The bill also sets up budget negotiations between the two branches aimed at devising a broader spending plan for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, 2014. Another measure provides back pay for hundreds of thousands of federal workers who were furloughed during the shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the compromise worked out between himself and his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell “historic,” and was quoted by CNN as saying that “in the end, political adversaries work out their differences.”
However, the debate over the Affordable Care Act, which was the major point of contention between the parties throughout the shutdown, isn’t expected to fade away. CNN said that Boehner and other Republican leaders had told their caucus they’d vote for the bill, and fight another day.
“Blocking the bipartisan agreement reached [Wednesday] by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us,” Boehner said in a statement. “Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue.”