“We’re back from the #shutdown!” the Smithsonian Institution crowed on Twitter, announcing that museums were reopening Thursday. The U.S. Capitol’s visitor center planned to resume tours. “Closed” signs started coming down at national parks and offices across the nation, hours after the deal was sealed in Washington.
Congress agreed to pay federal workers for the missed time. No such luck for contractors and all sorts of other workers whose livelihoods were disrupted.
“More business. More money,” cab driver Osman Naimyar said happily, noting the growing crowds of commuters on Washington streets. He lost about a fifth of his normal fares, he said, while federal workers stayed home and tourists disappeared from the National Mall.
The financial services company Standard & Poor’s estimated the shutdown drained $24 billion out of the economy, and it can’t all be recouped. That’s about $75 for each U.S. resident. Fitch credit rating agency is reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for a possible downgrade.
Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill were the decisive victors in the fight, which was sparked by tea party Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. They prevailed upon skeptical GOP leaders to use a normally routine short-term funding bill in an attempt to “defund” the 2010 health care law known as “Obamacare.”
“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded. He was given positive reviews from Republicans for his handling of the crisis, though it again exposed the tenuous grasp he holds over the fractious House GOP conference.
The shutdown sent approval of the GOP plummeting in opinion polls and exasperated veteran lawmakers who saw it as folly.
“It’s time to restore some sanity to this place,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said before the vote.