WASHINGTON – Congress has finally agreed on a bill to end the federal shutdown and raise the government’s debt ceiling.
The House of Representatives passed legislation that was voted through the Senate earlier today.
President Barack Obama immediately reported he would sign off on the deal, ending the partial shutdown on its 16th day, and only one day before the Treasury Department could have defaulted on its bills.
News reports gave credit for brokering the deal to Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate. The legislation funds the government until January 15, raises the debt ceiling until February 7, and requires that the House and Senate agree on a budget by December 13.
“For more than two weeks, hard-working families, veterans, and federal workers have suffered due to partisan fights which cost our economy $300 million per day,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who joined the 285 representatives who voted for the bill; 144 voted no. “I am relieved that we are finally moving forward today with a bipartisan agreement that will protect our economy and allow time for a larger agreement on a long-term budget and fiscal plan. People in Hawai‘i and across the country have been watching this circus for sixteen days and are tired of the political games in Washington. These preventable crises and petty arguments are distracting us from dealing with the very real issues we need to confront, such as growing our economy and creating jobs.”
Hawaii is no doubt looking forward to the effects of the deal. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will now be able to re-open, as will the islands’ other federally managed historical parks and monuments.
“I am pleased that Congress has finally reached an agreement that will allow the federal government to fully operate again,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie in a media release, sent from the nation’s capitol where today he met with the Aloha State’s Congressional Delegation. “Like other states and counties, Hawaii was placed in a fiscally vulnerable position where benefits, programs and jobs were on the line. We continue to monitor the situation hour by hour and day by day.”
The governor spoke with White House officials and met with Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono. He planned to meet with Representatives Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard on Thursday, as well as with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Fortunately,” Abercrombie said, “the State of Hawaii has seen signs of our economy rebounding and, due to prudent management by this administration, we were equipped to weather the three weeks of the government shutdown. However, we do not want these circumstances to arise again, putting our progress in jeopardy. Since this ‘new deal’ will only be in place for a short term, we must remain vigilant regarding our finances. I will continue to voice our concerns on behalf of the state and the counties, and work with our congressional delegation.”
“This shutdown caused terrible, unnecessary pain for Hawaii families, and we are all relieved that it is nearly over,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz in a media release. “We’ve got lots of work to do and simply re-opening the government and preventing default are not legislative achievements – this is the bare minimum to keep the country running. Now we need to move quickly and aggressively on to our major national issues – economic recovery, clean energy growth, immigration reform, and college affordability. This has been a waste of time that has hurt the American people and threatened our country’s reputation. Let’s get back to work.”