The Government Shutdown Is Over

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

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Tourists listen to a tour guide speak in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 17. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated Thursday, Oct. 18, 12 p.m. EDT: President Barack Obama delivered remarks Thursday morning thanking Democrats and "responsible Republicans" for coming together and ending the government shutdown and averting the debt-ceiling crisis. 

While happy about "ultimately getting the job done," the president lamented the "unnecessary damage" to the American economy.

"But let's be clear, there are no winners here," Obama said during a speech at the White House. "These last few weeks have inflicted completely unecessary damage to our economy. We don't know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there belives it's slowed our growth." 

The president called on Congress to end the constant pattern of manufactured crises perpetuated by steep political brinkmanship. "We shouldn't fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don't think it's good politics, just because the extremes in our party don't like the word 'compromise,' " he said. "And there's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.

"We come from different parties, but we are Americans first. That's why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction. It can't degenerate into hatred," he added. "The American people's hopes and dreams are what matters, not ours. Our obligations are to them. Our regard for them compels us all, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate and compromise and act in the best interests of our nation, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The president did not miss the opportunity to thank workers who were furloughed, or who had been working the past 16 days without pay. He gave them a heartfelt "welcome back." 

"I've got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who've either worked without pay or have been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you. Thanks for your service. Welcome back," Obama said. "What you do is important, and don't let anybody else tell you different."

The president wasn't the only high-ranking official to show his appreciation to the furloughed workers. Vice President Joe Biden, who has been absent these past weeks during negotiations, showed up at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, surprising workers and welcoming them back with muffins. 

"I am happy it's ended. It was unnecessary to begin with," Biden said, according to ABC News. "Budgets are supposed to be fought over economic issues. There was no economic rationale for this at all. And I hope, I hope everybody walks away with a lesson that this is unnecessary, and I hope we can regain the trust of the American people."

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was also spotted welcoming staffers back work, the Washington Post reports, although he didn't have any muffins.