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Obama: 'Americans are completely fed up with Washington'
Thu Oct 17, 2013 07:16

Obama: 'Americans are completely fed up with Washington'

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that "Americans are completely fed up with Washington" a day after the latest fiscal impasse was narrowly averted and called for talks with Congress on the budget, immigration and farm legislation.

Hours after he signed into law a hastily arranged bill to end a 16-day government shutdown and head off a debt default, Obama said events over the last two weeks had inflicted "completely unnecessary" damage on the U.S. economy.

Obama lectured members of Congress on their responsibility to serve the country, urging them to negotiate with him instead of endangering the country with games of "brinkmanship."

If people object to some government policies, "push to change it," he added, "but don't break it."

"Let's work together" to make government better, he said, "instead of treating it like an enemy."

"Now that the government is re-opened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do," he said.

In closing his morning remarks, he directly addressed members of his staff assembled in the State Dining Room on the first day back to work for many of them.

He praised what he called "dedicated and patriotic" federal workers, particularly the "young people who come to this city to serve . . . because they think it matters."

"What you do is important," he told them. "Don't let anybody else tell you differently."


National parks, museums and monuments will begin reopening today as the federal government resumes operations after a late-night congressional deal to end the 16-day shutdown.

The White House budget office told hundreds of thousands of federal workers, the bulk of whom had been idle for the past 16 days, to be ready to return to work on Thursday.

On its website, the Smithsonian said all of its museums will be open on Thursday, with the National Zoo set to reopen Friday. National monuments -- including the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument -- also are expected to begin welcoming back visitors on Thursday.

The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield also reopened Thursday morning.

Officials at Yosemite National Park announced that it reopened Wednesday night after Congress approved a deal to end the federal government shutdown.

Visitors can use public areas and roads immediately while other park facilities and services begin to reopen Thursday, park Supt. Don Neubacher said.

"We are excited to reopen and welcome visitors back to Yosemite," he said in a statement. "Autumn is a particularly special season to enjoy Yosemite's colorful grandeur."

The timetable for other national monuments to resume normal public hours remains unclear.

The National Park Service, which operates the monuments, still had not reactivated parts of its website early Thursday.


Congress approved a bill late Wednesday to fund the government and extend the federal government's debt ceiling and thus avoid a financial default. President Obama signed the bill in the early hours of Thursday. The legislative stalemate stemmed from budgetary disagreements over Obama's Affordable Care Act.

In the end, the Democratic-led Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure on a 81-18 vote, and the Republican-controlled House followed suit 285 to 144. Obama signed the 35-page bill just after midnight.

The down-to-the-wire deal, however, offers only a temporary fix and does not resolve the fundamental issues of spending and deficits that divide Republicans and Democrats. It funds the government until Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, so Americans face the possibility of another bitter budget fight and another government shutdown early next year.

Although the deal would only extend U.S. borrowing authority until the first week of February, the Treasury Department would have tools to temporarily extend its borrowing capacity beyond that date if Congress failed to act early next year. But such techniques eventually run out.

In addition to lifting the federal debt limit, the deal calls for creating a House-Senate bipartisan commission to try to come up with long-term deficit-reduction ideas that would have to be approved by the full Congress. Their work would have to be completed by Dec. 13, but some lawmakers say the panel faces an extremely difficult task.

Taking the podium in the White House briefing room on Wednesday night, Obama said that with final congressional passage, "We can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people."

"Hopefully next time it won't be in the 11th hour. We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis," Obama said. He outmaneuvered Republicans by holding firm in defense of "Obamacare" to win agreement, with few strings attached, to end the 16-day shutdown.

As he was walking out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if this would happen again in just a few months.

"No," he said, and continued walking.

Reuters and David Ng and Robert J. Lopez, the Los Angeles Times

Copyright © 2013, Reuters


Thursday, October 17, 2013
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