The Government Shutdown Is Over

With the crisis now averted, the president welcomes back workers and sets agenda.

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Updated Wednesday, Oct. 16, 10:35 p.m. EDT: Following in the footsteps of the Senate, the House of Representatives has passed the bill to raise the debt ceiling, less than two hours before the nation would have reached the limit on its borrowing power. 

The passage marks an end to a two-week deadlock, which partially shut down the government and cost the U.S. $24 billion. The bill, which passed with a 285-144 vote (all "no" votes being Republican), will now be handed over to the president, who is expected to sign it into law immediately. That means that the hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers could be back in their offices earning money as early as Thursday morning. 

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 16, 9:30 p.m. EDT: The Senate has cleared the first hurdle necessary to raise the debt ceiling and end the 16-day-old government shutdown, passing the bipartisan legislation overwhelmingly with an 81-18 vote, the Washington Post reports.  

The ball is now in the hands of the House of Representatives, with a vote expected later tonight. If things go smoothly in the Republican-led House -- which up until now has been resistant to deals in an attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act -- the bill could reach the hands of President Barack Obama in time to be signed into law before midnight hits and the nation runs out of its borrowing power. 

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 16, 4 p.m. EDT: The Washington Post reports that in an interview on The Bill Cunningham Show this afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner said he would "absolutely" allow the House to vote, regardless of what his majority thinks. The Republicans "fought the good fight" they "just didn't win," Boehner said, and there was no further reason to say no to the Senate, which has already agreed on a bipartisan plan.  

"We've been locked into a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare," Boehner said. He added that there was no reason for the government not to be reopened by Thursday.

The Ohio Republican also released a statement Wednesday afternoon, reiterating that he had no intention of blocking a vote in the House for the newly proposed Senate bill that would end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. Boehner, however, signaled that it won't be the last time Republicans go after the Affordable Care Act. The statement reads as follows:

The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country's debt and providing fairness for the American people under ObamaCare. That fight will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us. In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts. With our nation's economy still struggling under years of the president's policies, raising taxes is not a viable option. Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president's health care law will continue. We will rely on aggressive oversight that highlights the law's massive flaws and smart, targeted strikes that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to force his health care law on the American people.

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2 p.m. EDT: The new Senate-proposed bill, which leaves Obamacare relatively untouched, is a blow for House Republicans who initiated the government shutdown by insistently demanding a gut or delay of the Affordable Care Act as a concession for passing the federal budget. Speaker John Boehner will likely need Democratic support to pass the bill. 

The deal includes a measure that allows Congress to vote on the debt-ceiling increase again on Feb. 7, Politico reports, although that move can be vetoed by the president. It also allows for furloughed workers to be paid, for proof of eligibility when asking for health insurance subsidies and for the Treasury to take "extraordinary measures" to pay its bills in February, should the need arise. 

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