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US Congress sends Obama shutdown deal

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US Congress has approved a short-term deal to reopen the government and raise the country’s debt ceiling.

A 35-page bill that would raise the debt ceiling until February 7 and would fund the government until January 15 was approved by the Senate and the House just hours before the US would have exhausted its ability to borrow money and sixteen days after the US government shutdown began.

The Senate voted 81 to 18 for the bill and the House approved the Senate-brokered deal by a 285-144 vote.

The bill has been sent to President Obama who has vowed to “sign it immediately.”

“Once this agreement arrives on my desk I will sign it immediately and we will begin reopening the government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and the American people,” Obama said at the White House while awaiting the House to vote on the deal.

For sixteen days beginning on October 1, the US government shut down much of its function because congressional Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a budget to keep funding government operations.

A major bone of contention was Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which Republicans were seeking to defund or delay.

Concerns were raised that the political impasse in Washington could result in a failure to raise the country’s debt limit which would trigger the first default on US debt in history.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders acknowledged defeat hours after Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority and minority leaders, announced the terms of the short-term deal on the Senate floor.

However, Boehner has said that Republicans would continue their efforts to force Obama to slow or repeal portions of his signature health reform law.

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