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US federal employees ordered back to work
October 17, 2013, 5:33 am

Many Republicans backed down on 'Obamacare' and signed the measure that reopened government [Getty Images]

Many Republicans backed down on ‘Obamacare’ and signed the measure that reopened government [Getty Images]

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were ordered back to work when the US Congress reached a deal late Wednesday to reopen government and raise the debt ceiling.

It took Democrats and Republicans nearly 16 days to reach agreement after bickering over a temporary spending bill that would have ensured federal operations continue normally.

Congress had until a September 30 deadline to break the deadlock, but they couldn’t overcome partisan differences. For more than two weeks, Americans watched their elected leaders trade accusations across the aisle.

There was a false start to an agreement earlier in the week when a vote on a Republican plan was announced, but later canceled.

Wednesday’s agreement, which is considered a short-term measure to keep the government going, only came about when House Republican leaders compromised on their opposition to US President Barack Obama’s health care reforms.

Obama had earlier accused them of waging a crusade to repeal the reforms, which have become the centerpiece of his presidency.

In a vote of 81 to 18, the Senate ratified the deal and a few hours later the House of Representatives approved the measure in a vote of 285 to 144 after dozens of Republicans crossed the aisle and voted with Democrats.

Shortly after midnight on Thursday morning, Obama signed the agreement into law.

The agreement will keep government functioning at least until mid-January and raises the debt ($16.7 trillion) ceiling – which is a limit on how much the government can borrow – until February 7.

Source: Agencies