US government back in business after Senate deal
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The USA is open for business again, although nobody is exactly sure for how long. With the nation heading towards the rocks of default and a credit rating downgrade, Captain Obama managed to steer back into clear water with the help of the Senate. A Senate-brokered bill was pushed through with the unanimous support of Democrats and the grudging acquiescence of around a third of the Republicans, resulting in a 285-144 majority.
Obama immediately signed the bill into law, ending the federal shutdown and ushering government employees back into work for Thursday morning. The bill provides government funding until January 15 and lifts the debt limit until February 7, escaping the potential default. What happens after that is anyone's guess.
The opposing sides were both claiming a victory of sorts. Obama's supporters spun the deal as a case of the President's resilience finally bringing Republicans to their senses. The Tea Party wing of the Republican movement tried to present the lengthy impasse as a symptom of their integrity in opposing such radical Presidential initiatives as providing affordable health care for the poor.
The reality seems to be that the Republican actions have brought all the disparate factions in the Democrats together, discovering a new unity in support of the President. Meanwhile moderate Republicans were looking at the reactionary elements in their own party and accusing them of damaging the cause. "This was a terrible idea," Senator John McCain said.
Democrat House Of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi couldn't resist pointing out the expensive failure of the Republican actions. "Was their temper tantrum worth $24bn?", she asked, referring to Standard and Poor's estimate of the cost of the shutdown to the US economy.
Ironically some of the worst-affected areas were in the rural states where Tea Party support is strongest. Here National Parks and tourism-related businesses are a major part of the economy and the shutdown had an immediate impact on livelihoods.