Federal government employees nationwide almost immediately started getting phone, email and text messages telling them the government was open again and to report to work today.
The move came just a little more than 90 minutes before the midnight deadline which, had it come without the vote, would have forced the United States to default on debt obligations for the first time in its 237-year history.
That noise you heard outside that sounded like a gusty wind whipping through the trees may well have been the collective exhale of a worried world, fed up federal employees, and exasperated citizens nationwide. But that relief could be short-lived.
The bad news for shutdown-weary Americans is that yesterday's "settlement" is only a temporary band-aid for a badly wounded national economy, and psyche. The GOP agreed only to a debt ceiling extension that expires again in mid-January, with another national default deadline looming in early February.
We now know the shutdown cost the nation and taxpayers more than 24-billion dollars, in addition to the human cost to unpaid federal workers and their families, and to all the people who counted on or sought access to government programs, services, agencies and sites for the past sixteen days.
The House vote followed the U.S. Senate's 81-18 approval of the same agreement earlier in the day, and according to most observers except for Tea Party caucus members and right wing political and media figures, it just as easily could have come two weeks ago.
Those in Congress who planned the damaging shutdown seem to have known all along they wouldn't win anything, other than the fervent grassroots support of anti-Obamacare constituents led to believe a shutdown strategy could defund the Affordable Care Act.
When it became common knowledge the health reform law was not endangered, congressional Tea Party caucus demands kept changing like the weather. None of the new demands were met.
What most Republicans and conservatives continue to label as President Obama's "unwillingness to negotiate" during the shutdown is seen by Democrats, Independents and more than a few moderate Republicans as a steely determination not to sully the presidency by submitting to partisan political blackmail. Negotiations were always promised by the White House, once the shutdown was ended. To all appearances, that promise will be kept.
Many Americans are now asking at least a couple of tough questions. Why did Republican leaders allow the country to take such a big hit for so long, playing out the shutdown scenario right down to ninety minutes before the debt default deadline, even though they knew all along they'd get nothing accomplished? And why put the country right back on the same path to confrontation and crisis, almost immediately after the holiday season?
The answers to those questions may well determine whether the GOP and its current crop of Tea Party loyalists will retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014.