|Obama to GOP: 'Win an Election' to Change Policy|
|By ABBY D. PHILLIP||Oct 16, 2013, 11:25 PM|
The threat of default and 16-day government shutdown that ended Wednesday night left the American people -- and President Obama -- frustrated.
"You don't like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election," Obama said. "Push to change it.
"But don't break it," Obama told Republicans.
FULL COVERAGE: Government Shutdown
In an address to the nation from the White House hours after signing into law a compromise that ended the standoff, Obama said the American people are "fed up" with Washington and the shutdown and threat of default have inflicted damage on the economy and weakened the country's standing around the world.
He denounced lobbyists, bloggers, talking heads and "professional activists" who he said "profit from conflict" in government.
"Let's be clear: There are no winners here," Obama said at the White House. "Every analysis out there believes it has slowed our growth.
"Probably nothing has done more damage to America's credibility in the world, our standing with other countries than the spectacle we've seen over the last several weeks," he added.
The president laid out several priorities -- a long-term budget compromise, immigration overhaul and a farm bill -- that Congress should get working on soon. But he urged lawmakers to govern despite their differences.
"We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on, creating more good jobs that pay better wages," Obama said. "And there's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis."
To furloughed federal workers who returned to their jobs today, Obama thanked them for working -- many of them without pay -- or for being furloughed without pay for more than two weeks.
"Thank you, thanks for your service. Welcome back," Obama said. "What you do is important. It matters."
Shortly after midnight, Obama signed the bill that ended the government shutdown after the Senate and House approved budget legislation and extended the debt limit.
With the president's signature, federal employees returned to work today, some of them greeted by special guests.
Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough greeted federal employees at the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House today.
Biden carrying mini-coffee cakes and McDonough greeted workers with a pat on the back and a "good morning" as they came through the security checkpoint at the Old Executive Office Building.
Work has already begun on Capitol Hill for bipartisan negotiators, who, as part of the Senate's compromise to reopen government, have been tasked with brokering a long term budget deal by Dec. 13.
The group, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Budget committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chairman of the Senate Budget committee, joined together with their respective counterparts, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking Democrat, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget committee for breakfast this morning to jump start talks.
Just hours after announcing that Senate leaders had brokered a compromise Wednesdsay night to fund the government until Jan. 15 and extend the debt limit until Feb. 7, the chamber voted and passed the legislation.
Eighty-one senators voted in favor of the measure and 18, all Republican senators, voted against it.
The House followed suit shortly afterward, voting 285 to 144 to approve the bill. One hundred and forty-four Republicans opposed the vote. Eighty-seven other Republicans joined all 198 Democrats casting votes in favor of the measure.
Obama, speaking from the White House Wednesday night after the Senate's votes, said the protracted impasse over government funding has eroded public support and effectively stalled all other legislation.
"There a lot of work ahead of us, including the need to earn back the trust of the American people that has been lost of the last few weeks," Obama said.
He added that he was hopeful Congress could complete work on immigration reform legislation, a farm bill and a larger budget deal before the end of the year.
"There's no reason why we can't work on these issues at hand, why we can't disagree between the parties while still being agreeable and make sure we're not inflicting harm on the American people," Obama said.
The compromise was completed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., midday on Wednesday after a House effort to offer a counter-proposal nearly derailed Senate negotiations the day before.
The final agreement makes only minor changes to President Obama's health care law by requiring income verification for people receiving health care subsidies from the government. It also authorizes a bipartisan committee of negotiators to hammer out a long-term budget deal by Dec. 13, before government funding runs out again in January.
After weeks of legislative ping-pong and last-minute, closed-door negotiations, Reid shared a sentiment many across the country are feeling.
"I'm tired," Reid said at a news conference Wednesday after the Senate vote.
Reid and Democratic leaders Wednesday said they were pleased a deal was reached but warned that it should not be cause for excessive celebration because thousands of federal employees and the American economy took a hit during the shutdown.
"It will be some time before we realize the effects of what we've just done, but the shutdown has hurt our economy to a significant degree," Reid said. "But we were able to work it out."
Republicans in the House, though they resisted it, rallied around House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Wednesday as he announced his willingness to move forward with the Senate bill.
One member leaving a House Republican Conference meeting Wednesday afternoon said Boehner received a standing ovation from the group. Another told ABC News that when the leadership asked whether any members objected to their plan to move forward with a vote on the Senate bill, none objected.
Boehner left without making comment, but shook his fist before cameras in a display of success.