Shutdown Ends After Congress Approves Debt Deal

A deal that ended the government shutdown and prevented the first U.S. default on federal loans passed in the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday. Upon its approval, the agreement will guarantee government funding through Jan. 15 and raise the U.S. debt ceiling until Feb. 7 of next year.

“I will sign it immediately,” President Barack Obama said of the legislation Wednesday night following its passage in the Senate 81-18. “We’ll begin reopening our government immediately.”

After Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, including House Speaker John Boehner, said they would back the deal despite the absence of provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act, it was approved 285-144.

“We fought the good fight,” Boehner told a Cincinnati radio show Wednesday, according to a report by CNN. “We just didn’t win.”

The GOP had used reversal of Obamacare reforms as a bargaining chip in earlier negotiations to increase the federal borrowing limit and continue funding the government.

Failure of the House and Democrat-led Senate to achieve compromise resulted in a partial government shutdown beginning Oct. 1, including the furlough of nearly 1 million federal employees and suspension of various services. Functions Congress deems essential, including administration of Social Security and Medicare, remain in operation.

The agreement includes a provision to pay furloughed workers for time lost during the shutdown. New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) called the 16-day suspension of government services “irrational,” adding that he was “glad people are now getting back to work,” according to the Star Ledger.

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) said he would support the legislation despite flaws, the Ledger reports.

“It is not a perfect solution and I am proud to have worked tirelessly across the aisle…on a broader package,” he said. “But those efforts failed to bear fruit and my colleagues and I now face an impasse concerning our nation’s finances.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised the agreement, CNN reports, calling it a “historic” compromise in which “political adversaries put aside their differences.”

Republican Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, representing New Jersey, both voted to approve the bill. In the House, all of the state’s representatives voted in favor of the measure except for Republican Scott Garrett, of New Jersey’s fifth district.