Thursday, October 17, 2013

To the president's desk: House, Senate pass bill to end shutdown standoff

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
Lawmakers work to pass a bill that would end the first government shutdown in 17 years and prevent the government from defaulting on its debt.
By Carrie Dann, Political Reporter, NBC News

After weeks of stalemate that shuttered the government for 16 days and brought the nation within hours of a key deadline to renew its borrowing authority, the standoff is finally over.

The House passed a bill 285-144 late Wednesday night to re-open the government and extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.  That vote came hours after the Senate approved the measure 81-18.

In both chambers, only Republicans voted against the measure.  In the House, 87 Republicans joined all Democrats to support it.

After the votes, Office of Management and Budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell told federal employees to expect to return to work on Thursday morning.

After a long and tedious process, the Senate compromise is only a short-term deal allowing the federal government to operate through January 15, and conservatives who fought to de-fund or delay Obamacare have had to concede defeat. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports.

In remarks at the White House after the Senate vote – but before the House took up the measure – President Barack Obama said that he will sign the bill as soon as it arrives on his desk and that the government will begin re-opening "immediately."

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that’s been lost over the last few weeks,” he said. "And we can begin to do that by addressing the real issues that they care about."

After more than two weeks of standoff over the government shutdown, Republicans --  faced with Thursday’s debt ceiling deadline -- were forced to accept a deal with only minor concessions from Democrats.

That bill will fund the federal government through Jan. 15 and extend the government’s borrowing power, known as the debt ceiling, through Feb. 7. It also calls for an agreement by mid-December on a long-term budget plan.

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