Back in business: Obamacare undented as shutdown ends, debt default avoided

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Social Security checks continued to be mailed, and agencies that had their own funding, such as the Postal Service, also kept going.

The high-profile shutdowns did include national parks and refunds from the IRS.

After the vote, Mr. Reid said the next issue he wants to push is immigration. A bill passed the Senate already earlier this year, but the House has not taken action.

“Let’s move on,” Mr. Reid said. “How about let’s do immigration?”

The most Republicans could salvage from the fight was that they didn’t give up the budget sequesters. But neither did they lock them in.

Indeed, the stopgap spending bill, which ends Jan. 15, was timed to coincide with the next round of sequesters, giving Democrats another chance to undo them.

GOP leaders were chastened by the past few weeks.

“Hopefully, we’ve all learned some important lessons,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the chamber, as he ducked into his office off the Senate floor. He didn’t say who he was talking about, though moments later fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz went in to see Mr. Cornyn.

Mr. Cruz helped ignite the past three weeks of fighting by insisting Republicans refuse to fund the government until Mr. Obama canceled Obamacare. He spent August bolstering his case, aided by pressure groups that said they would punish lawmakers who didn’t support Mr. Cruz’s push by downgrading them on legislative scorecards.

Those groups were adamantly opposed to the final Reid-McConnell deal.

“There are no significant changes to Obamacare, nothing on the other major entitlements that are racked with trillions in unfunded liabilities, and no meaningful spending cuts either,” said the Club for Growth, which said it was urging lawmakers to oppose the bill.

On the other side of the ledger was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said it was scoring the vote as a “Yes.” Executive Vice President R. Bruce Josten said while there are major spending and tax issues to be fought over, a debt default shouldn’t ever be risked.

“The U.S. economy continues to grow only modestly, reinforcing the need for the federal government to resume its normal operations and to avoid the uncertainty and panic that would result from a historically unprecedented debt default,” he wrote to lawmakers.

For his part, Mr. Cruz declined to delay the bill, which he could have done, just as he did in September. But he did have harsh words for his colleagues.

“This is a terrible deal. This deal embodies everything about the Washington establishment that frustrates the American people,” he said on the Senate floor, minutes before the vote. “This deal kicks the can down the road. It allows yet more debt, more deficit, more spending, and it does absolutely nothing to provide relief for the millions of Americans who are hurting because of Obamacare.”

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