Skip to main content

US government ends shutdown and avoids debt crisis

US government ends shutdown and avoids debt crisis

Share this story


On the 16th day of the government shutdown the United States Congress has passed a bill that will raise the federal debt ceiling and re-open the government. The result of an 11th-hour deal crafted today by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 81 to 18. It then moved to the House of Representatives, where it passed 285-144 with votes from both Republicans and Democrats. Despite its passage, a majority of House Republicans ended up voting against the bill.

Overall, 162 out of 532 elected officials — all Republicans — voted against re-opening the government; that's 30.4 percent of Congress. Among the 18 Senate "no" votes were Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). At a press conference earlier this evening, President Obama stated that he would be signing the bill once it arrived at his desk; at that time, he said, "we'll begin re-opening our government immediately." The Washington Post later reported that Obama had signed the bill.

"We'll begin re-opening our government immediately."

While the bill will avert the threat of federal debt default for the moment, it is ultimately only a temporary measure. Under the deal, the government will be funded only through January 15th of next year, and the debt ceiling raised through February 7th. If the same kind of political tactics are used next year, the country could find itself embroiled in a very similar situation in just a matter of months. In the meantime, a bipartisan committee will be formed to address the underlying budget issues and is scheduled to submit its recommendations on December 13th.

"There's a lot of work ahead of us," Obama said, "including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that's been lost over the last few weeks."

"Goose egg, nothing, we got nothing."

The shutdown largely came to pass because of the efforts of House Republicans to marry government funding with attempts to pare back or de-fund the Affordable Care Act — colloquially referred to as Obamacare. Despite that stance, today's bill did nothing to substantially change the ACA. "Goose egg, nothing, we got nothing," Representative Thomas H. Massie (R-KY) told The New York Times.

Pressure mounted on both parties as the shutdown stretched on, particularly as the debt ceiling deadline — and the threat of default — loomed. House Republicans advanced a number of bills that would fund discrete portions of the government, a tactic that gained no traction with Senate Democrats. Meanwhile more members of the House came forward calling for a vote on a "clean CR" — a resolution that would fund the government without linking it to any ACA-related provisions. "That's essentially what we're doing now," Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) told the Times, stating that Congress should have passed such a bill weeks ago. "People can blame me all they want, but I was correct in my analysis and I'd say a lot of those folks were not correct in theirs."

This article has been updated to reflect that President Obama has now signed the bill.