President Obama on Wednesday vowed to immediately sign a bill to reopen the federal government and increase the nation's debt limit once the legislation clears Congress but warned that “there's a lot of work ahead” for a gridlocked Washington.
By a vote of 81-18, the Senate voted late Wednesday to lift the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown. The House is expected to vote on the legislation later Wednesday.
“Hopefully next time it won’t be in the 11th hour,” Obama lamented. “We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis.”
Obama also promised the federal government would reopen “immediately.”
Under the Senate-passed bill, the nation’s borrowing limit would be extended through Feb. 7 and the government funded through Jan. 15. A bipartisan budget committee would also report back by Dec. 13 on a possible broader fiscal package.
House Republicans, who opened the government shutdown clash with hopes of gutting Obamacare, will have to settle for a small tweak to the president's signature legislative achievement.
The legislation includes a measure to verify income levels for those seeking Obamacare benefits but does not delay a tax on medical devices or scrap health care subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs – both of which were part of earlier GOP proposals.
The Treasury Department would also retain the ability to use “extraordinary measures” to pay the federal government's bills if the debt ceiling is not lifted by Feb. 7.
Obama said he would give more elaborate remarks on Thursday but argued that Washington needed to put the fiscal impasse behind them and get to work on policies that would jump start the economy, including immigration reform.
“We can begin to do that,” Obama said, “by addressing the real issues [Americans] care about.”