Default averted as government reopens
Both chambers of Congress voted to raise the United States’ debt limit and reopen the government Wednesday night, ending a massive furlough that impacted federal employees for 16 days and averting a default that was to start impacting the government early Thursday morning.
President Obama signed the bill, which put to rest the first government shutdown in 17 years and stopped the government from defaulting on its bills for the first time in two centuries, late Wednesday.
In a briefing Thursday morning, President Barack Obama called the shutdown and the the debt limit “twin threats to the economy” and said the shutdown has exerted unnecessary pressure on the economy.
“At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back,” he said during the briefing. “And for what? There was no economic rationale for all of this.”
The bill, which came from the Senate, passed the Republican-lead
house by a vote of 185-144. The Senate vote was 81-18 with one Senator
The government shutdown had forced massive cuts to federal transportation agencies, meaning many organizations crucial to domestic and international transportation have been either overloaded or have simply stopped carrying out the majority of their duties. At a Senate hearing on Friday, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said furloughing the vast majority of its employees has meant that investigations into accidents have been postponed.
During the hearing, Marion Blakely, head of the Aerospace Industries Association, said that while the shutdown has put a wrench in day-to-day transportation operations and brought these issues to the front burner, industry stakeholders still need to take notice of longer-term impact of recent government actions.
“As difficult as the shutdown is, we should not lose sight of the sequestration’s long-term harm to important government functions,” she said. “AIA is concerned that, as agencies are forced to choose between today’s operating budget and tomorrow’s capital investments, they will increasingly eliminate the investments.”
While the Federal Aviation Administration has kept air traffic controllers at work during the shutdown, many of its duties — the NextGen and aircraft inspections programs among them — have been shutdown. When they came into work this morning, employees at the FAA, the NTSB and other transportation organizations no doubt have faced a significant backlog in paperwork.
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