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President Obama signs bill to end government shutdown and raise debt limit


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy US Capitol Flickr

After 16 days of the government being shut down for the first time in close to two decades, business is back up and running.

On Wednesday night, Congress passed a bill that would help fund the government through January 15, 2014 and raise the debt limit until February 7. President Barack Obama signed the bill later that night and put an end to the partial government shutdown, which he said brought “completely unnecessary damage to our economy,” reopening federal agencies and bringing federal employees back to work.

According to reports, federal workers are expected to return to work on Thursday.

“We’ve got another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back and for what?” said President Obama on Thursday after the federal government reopened. “There was no economic rationale for all of this. Over the past four years our economy has been growing, our businesses have been increasing and our deficits have been cut in half.”

The president said the more than two-week government shutdown encouraged enemies, bolded competitors and depressed friends that look to the United States to invest in or as a role model.

“The good news is we’ll bounce back from this, we always do,” said Obama. “America is the bedrock for the global economy for a reason. We are the indispensable nation that the rest of the world looks to as the safest and most reliable place to invest.”

Obama said the main job the government has to do now is regain the trust of the American people, who “are completely fed up with Washington.”

“Today I want our people, and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith in credit in the United States remains unquestioned,” said Obama. “All my friends in Congress -understand how business is done in this town has to change. Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust.”

In order to make progress, Obama called on Congress to pursue a balanced approach for a budget, approve and fix the immigration reform laws and also pass a farm bill, which American farmers and ranchers can depend on.

The shutdown, which began on October 1, resulted from a congressional stalemate over the federal budget.

The Republican-led House tried to defund and delay the Affordable Care Act, but the Democratic-controlled Senate refused to accept a bill that would derail “Obamacare.”

Ironically, the government shutdown did affect the Affordable Care Act. The Health Care Marketplace, which compiles and rates insurance offerings in each state, started accepting applications on October 1.

Any employee or office that provides national security and conducts activities essential to the national security or the safety of life and property remained open and working. This included the U.S. military, air traffic controllers, prison guards, emergency personnel and border patrol agents.

However, more than 800,000 federal workers were left without jobs temporarily. Also, intercollegiate athletic competitions at service academies – Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard – were suspended.

Due to the government shutdown all National Park facilities, including more than 400 national zoos, museums and parks, were closed. Twenty-two national parks in New York were closed including the Statue of Liberty, Gateway National Recreational Area and other facilities.

 

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