Shutdown over,US govt slowly gets back to normal

The Senate passed the legislation first,and the House followed later.

Washington | Published:October 18, 2013 4:09 am

The United States government sputtered back to life Thursday morning after US President Barack Obama and Congress ended a 16-day shutdown,clearing the way for federal agencies to again deliver services,reopen public facilities and welcome hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees returning to work.

The political standoff in the nation’s capital ended just minutes before a midnight deadline when the government’s ability to borrow money would have expired. Republicans conceded defeat on Wednesday by agreeing to finance the operations of government until January 15 and raise the nation’s debt limit through the middle of February. The Senate passed the legislation first,and the House followed later.

The agreement paves the way for another series of budget negotiations in the weeks ahead,even as conservative Republicans in the House and Senate vowed to renew their fight for cuts in spending and changes to the Affordable Care Act.

Just hours after Obama signed the temporary spending measure into law,agencies in Washington and across the country prepared to reopen offices,public parks,research projects and community programs that have been mothballed for more than two weeks. The government’s top personnel officer announced that officials should restart normal functions “in a prompt and orderly manner.”

In Washington,the city’s subway trains were once again packed with federal workers streaming in from the suburbs,government IDs dangling from lanyards around their necks. At the Lincoln Memorial,tourists waited nearby as a park ranger cut down the signs announcing that the memorial was closed.

But how quickly other parts of the government will resume normal operations was not immediately clear. By dawn,few government Web sites had been updated to reflect the government’s new status. A banner at the top of the National Park Service Web site still read: “Because of the federal government shutdown,national parks are closed and the National Park Service website is not being maintained.” Some federal agencies began offering employees guidance for their return to work.

MICHAEL D SHEAR

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