That campaign succeeded mainly in undermining popular support for the Republican Party, however. By late Wednesday, dozens of anxious GOP lawmakers were ready to give President Obama almost exactly what he requested months ago: a bill to fund the government and increase the Treasury Department’s borrowing power with no strings attached.
“We’ve been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a Cincinnati radio station. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.”
The Senate overwhelmingly ratified the deal Wednesday evening, 81 to 18, with more than half of Senate Republicans voting yes.
A few hours later, the House followed suit, approving the measure 285 to 144. Eighty-seven Republicans joined a united Democratic caucus in approving the measure, allowing Congress to meet a critical Treasury Department deadline with one day to spare.
Obama signed the measure into law shortly after midnight,, reopening parks and monuments across the nation, restoring government services and putting furloughed federal employees back on the job, many of them in the Washington region.
“Employees should expect to return to work in the morning,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the White House budget director, said in a statement.
The measure also guarantees those workers back pay for time spent at home, aid flood-ravaged Colorado and provide extra cash for fighting wildfires out West. And it grants the District government, which relies on Congress to approve its budget, authority to manage its own affairs through the 2014 fiscal year.
Enforcement of the debt limit is suspended until Feb. 7, setting up another confrontation over the national debt sometime in March, independent analysts estimated. Meanwhile, federal agencies are funded through Jan. 15, when they might shut down again unless lawmakers resolve a continuing dispute over deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was to have breakfast Thursday morning with her House counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to start a new round of talks aimed at averting another crisis. Obama repeated his vow to work with Republicans to rein in a national debt that remains at historically high levels.
“With the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country,” Obama said at the White House.