Government shutdown finally over

The United States once again narrowly avoided default by raising the nation's debt ceiling. The last-minute deal — the day before default — could have sparked an international economic crisis. Both houses of Congress passed the bill on Oct. 16, which also reopened the federal government. The legislation ended a 16-day shutdown of the U.S. government. It was the first time the government was shut down since 1995, when a standoff lasted 27 days.

The agreement, however, is only a temporary solution. The bill funds the government until Jan. 16. The nation's debt limit was raised until Feb. 7.

The Senate, which authored the bill, overwhelmingly voted to reopen the government, 81-18. Minnesota's senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, voted in favor of ending the crisis. The House then approved the bill 285 to 144. Minnesota's Michele Bachmann was the sole member from the state who voted against the measure.

Despite the partisan battle, Republicans joined Democrats to pass the legislation. Among the Grand Old Party (GOP), 27 Senators and 87 House Members voted to open the government.

Many saw the vote as a victory for the Democrats.

“We fought the good fight; we just didn't win,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Cincinnati's WLW radio station.

President Obama denounced the crisis on Thursday at the White House.

"Now, there’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown,” Obama said. “But let’s be clear: there are no winners here. These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy. We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth."

Standard & Poor's estimated that the shutdown cost the United States $24 billion.

The president also addressed federal workers, who were able to return to work.

“That brings me to one last point,” the president said. “I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you. Thanks for your service. Welcome back. What you do is important. It matters.”

Duluth Rep. Nolan seeks to change how members of Congress are paid

Federal employees now face an uphill battle. Civil servants have a two-week backlog of work to catch up on. While they will receive backpay, Congressman Rick Nolan, Duluth's representative, seeks to change how Congress is paid.

Nolan introduced a bill during the shutdown called the No Government, No Pay Act. The bill would stop paying members of Congress in the event of a shutdown. It would also require them to work “around the clock” until an agreement was reached.

“It’s time for Congress to start living in the real world — where you either do your job, or you don’t get paid,” said Nolan in a press release.




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