After 15 days of waiting, federal employees can finally get back to work, and starting Thursday Oct, 17, the American people can begin to use government services and visit shuttered federal offices and sites. In an eleventh hour deal, Congress passed legislation to fund the government and avert a default that would have prevented the U.S. from being able to borrow money, CBS News reported on Wednesday.
President Obama signed the bill late last night, reported White House Office of Management and Budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell at about 12:45 a.m. this morning. The bill funds the government through Jan. 15 and lifts the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.
“This compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev Reid said. “It's never easy for two sides to reach consensus. It's really hard, sometimes harder than others. This time was really hard.”
President Obama said that the nation needs to stop “governing by crisis.”
“We can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty from our businesses and from the American people,” Obama said. One of the things that I said throughout this process is we've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis. And my hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can't work on the issues at hand, why we can't disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we're not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.”
With the stalemate finally over, most federal employees are expected to return to work on Thursday Oct. 17. Here is a list of federal offices open for business:
IRS: The toll free number for IRS assistance will be available starting at 6 a.m. today. A message to all IRS employees on irs.gov says employees are expected to report to work no later than four hours after the start of their tour of duty.
Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, Justice, Labor and Transportation: All such departments are expected to be open and staffed starting this morning.
Department of Homeland Security: DHS was on a partial shutdown only, but the remaining employees will be called back today. Online and phone services, such as grants issued by FEMA, will be available.
Department of Veterans Affairs: Most employees at the VA are funded through multi-year and other types of appropriations; most VA offices and services remained open throughout the shutdown. Remaining offices will be reopened.
Environmental Protection Agency: EPA first responders remained on the job. All others should be back to work today.
USDA: All branches of the USDA are expected to open Thursday.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Field division staff remained on the job. All others should report to work today as normally scheduled.
Office of Personnel Management: OPMs web site says employees are expected to return to work on their next regularly scheduled workday.
Smithsonian and National museums / monuments: Open for visiting starting today.