U.S. Federal employees protest the government shutdown in front of the Capitol in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Oct. 16, 2013. U.S. Senate Wednesday night approved the bipartisan deal which would lift the debt ceiling and end the partial shutdown of the federal government, bringing the bill closer to a final congressional passage. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night approved a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the federal government, clearing final hurdle of the legislation in the Congress.
The House voted 285-144 in favor of the bill, which funds the government through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling until Feb.7. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the deal earlier Wednesday night.
Speaking shortly after the Senate vote, U.S. President Barack Obama said he would sign the bill as soon as it comes to his desk and the process of reopening government would then begin "immediately."
The bill ended weeks of tension and stalemate between the two parties which lurched the federal government into the first partial shutdown in 17 years and pushed the country to the brink of a historic default.
The Congress defused the risks one day before the deadline set by the U.S. Treasury, which said it would exhaust the extraordinary measures on Oct. 17, with merely 30 billion dollars cash on hand.
The short-term bill provided a temporary fix to the fiscal issues but would not resolve the fundamental divide between Democrats and Republicans. It also raised the possibility of another battle early next year when the government runs out of funds and Treasury's borrowing authority ends again.
The impasse has already taken its toll. According to rating agency Standard & Poor's, more than two-week long government shutdown cost the U.S. economy at least 24 billion dollars, shaving 0.6 percent off annualized fourth-quarter growth. It cut its forecast for the fourth quarter growth closer to 2 percent from 3 percent.