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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama signs bill to end shutdown, avoid default

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Politics,White House,Congress,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Treasury,Republican Party,Democratic Party,Harry Reid,Mitch McConnell,Debt Ceiling,PennAve,Jack Lew,Government Shutdown,Meghashyam Mali

Early Thursday morning, minutes after midnight, President Obama signed a bill ending the government shutdown and raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

“The President signed into law: H.R. 2775, the 'Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014,' which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the Federal Government through Wednesday, January 15, 2014,” announced the White House press secretary in a statement. "H.R. 2775 also extends the Nation's debt limit through February 7, 2014."

Obama’s signature reopened the federal government after a two-week shutdown, the first in more than 17 years. The bill also extends the Treasury Department’s ability to borrow money, avoiding a possible default, which Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had warned could come as early as Oct. 17.

The fiscal crisis was sparked when Congress failed to pass a funding bill by Oct. 1. House Republicans tied their funding measures to language blocking Obamacare, but those bills were rejected by the Democratic Senate and the White House.

The 16-day standoff ended Wednesday evening when the Senate voted 81 to 18 to pass the funding and debt-limit measure, followed by a 285-144 vote in the House.

Republican efforts to force deeper spending cuts or changes to the president’s health care reform law fell flat, and polls showed a majority blamed the GOP for the shutdown, damaging the party’s brand.

The bill sets the stage for the next budget fights, funding the government until Jan. 15 and raising the debt limit until Feb. 7. A bicameral committee must also report back by Dec. 13 on a broader possible budget deal.

The president hailed the bipartisan compromise crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., earlier Wednesday after the Senate passed the measure, sending it to the House.

“Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “We'll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.”

Obama said he would have “more to say about this tomorrow” and is slated to speak from the White House at 10:35 a.m. Thursday.

The head of the White House budget office, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, told employees in a statement Wednesday that they should “expect to return to work in the morning.”

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