WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama said the government shutdown “inflicted unnecessary damage” to the U.S. economy and damaged America’s credibility around the world.
Obama spoke from the White House hours after signing legislation to reopen the government following 16 days of a partial shutdown.[cbs-audio url=”http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/furlough.mp3″ size=”340″ download=”false” name=”Federal Workers Back After 16-Day Shutdown” artist=”WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports”]
“The American people are completely fed up with Washington,” he said. “In a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum we have yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back, and for what?”
Obama signed the measure early Thursday, which the House and Senate passed late Wednesday night. The deal came before the nation’s debt limit was facing a breach.
Watch The President’s Full Speech Below:
“Today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned,” Obama said.
While “these twin threats to our economy have now been lifted,” Obama said the shutdown slowed economic growth.
“Nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of furloughed federal workers returned to work across the country Thursday after the White House directed all agencies to reopen promptly and in an orderly fashion.
“I got the message at 12:02 last night,” Magda Marcano, a child care specialist who works in lower Manhattan, told CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian. “My BlackBerry said ‘ba bing,’ and I said ‘oh yeah!'”
Many of those workers in the Tri-State Area had a sense of relief, but were still upset at Congress over the shutdown.
“It was horrible, just the thought of not knowing when you’re going to come back,” a furloughed worker told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.
“I hope Congress now realizes they can’t pull this crap,” one woman told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.
“Should never have happened in the first place and it should have ended the first day if it had to happen,” said another federal employee. “It went too long.”
“This is stressful,” another federal worker told Dardashtian. “Obviously, we have a lot of bills to pay.”
Some federal employees, however, said they are not breathing a sigh of relief just yet.
“As I hear, we might have to look forward to this in February if they don’t work out everything,” said Zelda Haywood, who works in Newark.
Not only were many government employees forced to stay home, but businesses that rely on their business suffered during the shutdown.
Scott Summer, who owns T.M. Ward Coffee shop in Newark, said his clientele includes FBI agents federal marshals. He estimates he lost about $500 a day while the federal government was partially closed.
“You can see it already today — more people,” Summer said. “‘Cause it was a like a ghost town.”
The impasse also shuttered national parks and monuments and mostly closed down NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department.
Critical functions of government went on as usual and most federal employees won’t see their paychecks delayed, but the closure and potential default weighed on the economy and spooked the financial markets.
Standard & Poor’s estimated the shutdown has taken $24 billion out of the economy, and the Fitch credit rating agency warned Tuesday that it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for a possible downgrade.
The agreement Wednesday was brokered by the Senate’s top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and its Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. They stepped in after the House was unable to coalesce around a Republican-only approach Tuesday.
The Senate approved the legislation by an 81-18 vote; the House followed suit by a tally of 285-144, with 87 Republicans in favor and 144 against, breaking an informal rule in which a majority of the majority party is supposed to carry legislation.
Democrats unanimously supported the bill, even though it locks in funding at levels required by across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.
The legislation funds the government through Jan. 15 and permits it to borrow normally through Feb. 7, though Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew retains the capacity to employ accounting maneuvers to create wiggle room on the debt limit into mid-March or so.
“Because of today’s efforts, we will continue to honor all of our commitments — a core American value — and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States,” Lew said in a statement following the Senate vote.
The deal makes just one change to the Affordable Care Act. It would require those seeking subsidies for insurance coverage to verify their income.
“This is far less than any of us hoped for frankly, but it’s far better than some had sought,” McConnell said.
“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded in a radio interview.
In remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the measure was “a terrible deal” and criticized fellow Republicans for lining up behind it.
“This deal kicks the can down the road,” Cruz said. “It allows yet more debt, more deficits, more spending.”
The bill’s passage was only a temporary truce that sets up another collision between Obama and Republicans over spending and borrowing early next year.
“We finally achieved our goal, but frankly, we ended up where we started,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
Obama said now that the shutdown is over, leaders in Washington should focus on a budget, immigration reform and a farm bill.
He said the first focus should be on reaching a budget agreement. Congressional negotiators started discussing that issue Thursday.
Obama said both parties should pursue a budget that lowers deficits, invests in education and infrastructure, cuts unnecessary spending and closes corporate loopholes.
He also said Congress should finish an immigration bill by the end of the year. An overhaul passed the Senate but stalled in the House.
The president’s third priority is to pass an overdue farm bill. The House and Senate are at odds on that issue, too.
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