Obama: the way business is done in Washington has to change

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Associated Press

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 5:57 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 12:31 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the 16-day government shutdown "inflicted unnecessary damage" to the U.S. economy and damaged America's credibility around the world.

Obama spoke from the White House Thursday just hours after signing legislation to reopen the government following 16 days of a partial shutdown.

The deal came the night before the nation's debt limit was facing a breach.

Obama said while "these twin threats to our economy have now been lifted," the shutdown slowed economic growth.

Obama says the way that business is done in Washington has to change.

The White House directed all agencies to reopen promptly and in an orderly fashion. Furloughed federal employees across the country were returning to work Thursday.

Va. Sen. Mark Warner said via Twitter: “Let’s not`Repeat This Nightmare.’”

Rep. Rob Wittman echoed that sentiment in a statement issued late Wednesday.

"We have to get back to doing business in a regular order and stop this cycle of crisis management," he wrote. 

Read statements from Va. and NC lawmakers

The impasse had shuttered national parks and monuments, and mostly closed down NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department. Critical functions of government went on as usual and most federal employees won't see their paychecks delayed, but the closure and potential default weighed on the economy and spooked the financial markets.

Standard & Poor's estimated the shutdown has taken $24 billion out of the economy, and the Fitch credit rating agency warned Tuesday that it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for a possible downgrade.

Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill were the decisive winners in the fight, which was sparked by tea party Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who prevailed upon skeptical GOP leaders to use a normally routine short-term funding bill 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 in a radio interview. 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 agreement was brokered by the Senate's top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and its Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. They stepped in after the House was unable to coalesce around a Republican-only approach Tuesday.

McConnell is up for re-election next year, and his tea party primary opponent issued a statement blasting his role.

"When the stakes are highest, Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out conservatives," Matt Bevin said. In the House, conservatives praised Boehner for tenacity.

The Senate approved the legislation by an 81-18 vote; the House followed suit by a tally of 285-144, with 87 Republicans in favor and 144 against, breaking an informal rule in which a majority of the majority party is supposed to carry legislation. Democrats unanimously supported the bill, even though it locks in funding at levels required by across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

The legislation would fund the government through Jan. 15 and permit it to borrow normally through Feb. 7, though Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew retains the capacity to employ accounting maneuvers to create wiggle room on the debt limit into mid-March or so.

Most House Republicans opposed the compromise bill for failing to do anything about deficits and debt.

The bill's passage was only a temporary truce that sets up another collision between Obama and Republicans over spending and borrowing early next year. It's the second time this year that Congress has passed legislation to increase the government's borrowing cap with few if any conditions on the president, reversing a 2011 precedent in which the threat of default was used to extract $2.1 trillion in spending cuts from a politically wounded Obama.

House-Senate talks will begin on a broader budget pact in hopes of curbing deficits and easing across-the-board budget cuts that have slammed the Pentagon and domestic agencies alike. Such agreements have proven elusive in the current era of divided government.

"No one thinks this will be easy" Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said of budget negotiations. Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., along with their ranking minority members, immediately scheduled a breakfast meeting for Thursday to break the ice.

AP-WF-10-17-13 0712GMT

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