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Congress Approves Bill To End Government Shutdown, Avoid Default

WASHINGTON (KDKA/AP) -- Congress has passed legislation to reopen the partially-shuttered federal government and avert a potentially disastrous default on U.S. obligations, clearing the measure for President Barack Obama's promised signature.

Passage of the bill late Wednesday in the House and Senate ended a Washington-created crisis that closed much of government for 16 days. It came on the eve of the date the Treasury Department warned it would no longer be able to borrow to pay the government's bills.

The legislation was carried to passage in the House by strong support from Democrats and 87 yes votes from majority Republicans who had originally sought to use the measure to derail Obama's three-year-old health care law.

Meanwhile, with Congress putting in those late hours to end the shutdown and avoid a default, some wondered why it took so long.

KDKA's Jon Delano: "Why did it take more than two weeks to end this shutdown?"

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle: "Well, I think it took as long as it did because Speaker Boehner forfeited his ability to govern. He has a caucus that couldn't give him 218 votes for anything."

KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano went to Washington DC to get some answers to why this Congress seems so dysfunctional.

Delano: "This has been total craziness. You all look like a bunch of idiots."

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus: "I share the frustration. I've been here 10 months now, I came out of the private sector where I negotiated contracts."

While some Republican House members wanted to negotiate defunding Obamacare, Republican senators like Pat Toomey never agreed to link funding the entire government to defunding Obamacare.

"That was never a good strategy in my view, so I think we went wrong," said Sen. Toomey.

But the three local House members who voted for that linkage Rothfus, Tim Murphy and Mike Kelly defended it even as they say they will now vote to end it.

"That's the beauty of this, the beauty of being able to discuss it and not being run roughshod over what the people voted for in November," said U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly. "I think there's a lot of questions that come up about that and say, 'How far do you push it? And when do you stop?' I think today the stops go into place, we open up the government, we raise our debt ceiling."

But whatever the cause of the dysfunction, the public doesn't like it. Even as elected officials stick to their sound bites.

Delano: "Are you embarrassed?"

Sen. Bob Casey: "I think everyone is embarrassed by this whole spectacle, but this was a Tea Party takeover the Republican Party, which led to a Tea Party shutdown."

And the truth is a three-month extension of these deadlines means they could soon be at it again.

"I disagree this is kicking the can down the road because this is requiring people to meet together to deal with these budget issues," U.S. Rep. Murphy said.

The legislation will reopen the government through Jan. 15 and permit Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7.

Local Lawmakers Take On Tough Questions About Government Shutdown (10/16/13)
More Political News
More Reports by Jon Delano

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