WASHINGTON — The government unlocked its doors Thursday after 16 days, with President Barack Obama saluting the resolution of Congress’ bitter standoff but lambasting Republicans for the partial shutdown that he said had damaged the U.S. economy and America’s credibility around the world.
“There are no winners here,” Obama said just hours after signing a last-minute measure from Congress that was free of the Republican demands that had started the showdown. The deal allowed federal workers to return Thursday morning and headed off the threat that the nation would default on its debts, at least for this year.
“The American people are completely fed up with Washington,” Obama said in stern remarks at the White House. The nation’s credit rating was jeopardized, economic growth and hiring were slowed and federal workers were temporarily deprived of paychecks, Obama said, all because of “yet another self-inflicted crisis.”
In hopes of averting another standoff when the just-passed measure runs out, Congress’ four top budget writers met over breakfast to begin new talks on spending and borrowing issues that have bedeviled the divided government for years.
Obama warned lawmakers about disagreements so bitter they could “degenerate into hatred” and urged a shift toward cooperation. He called for Congress to come up with a long-term agreement for restraining Medicare and Social Security spending and to pass immigration and farm and food bills that have floundered amid partisan disputes.
He also sought to assure governments and investors around the world that the “full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.”
“We’ll bounce back from this,” Obama declared. “We always do.”
The House and Senate voted late Wednesday night to end the shutdown that began when Republicans tried unsuccessfully to use must-pass funding legislation to derail the president’s landmark health care law.