Obama: Shutdown damaged US economy
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said today that the recent government shutdown "inflicted unnecessary damage" to the nation's economy and hurt America's credibility worldwide.
The president spoke just hours after signing legislation to reopen the government this morning. The bipartisan legislation ended the 16-day partial shutdown brought on by Republican members of Congress who demanded changes to the president's health care law before they would continue funding the budget.
The shutdown also took the nation up to the debt ceiling deadline, when it would no longer be able to borrow money to cover its debts. Today, Obama said that thought "these twin threats to our economy have now been lifted," the shutdown still slowed economic growth.
Obama said the way business was done in Washington had to change, and that both parties should pursue a budget that lowers deficits, invests in education and infrastructure, cuts unnecessary spending and closes corporate loopholes.
Lawmakers on a committee to work out a larger budget deal began meetings today and have a mid-December deadline, but warned the meetings were no guarantee of success. The committee was formed as part of the deal to reopen the government; it also only raised the debt ceiling to February and funds the government through January.
Both GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state are promising to search for common ground. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama cautioned against raising expectations, and Democratic. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said just talking doesn't guarantee success. But Van Hollen noted that not talking guarantees failure.
The president today also laid out his priorities for the next portion of this term, chief of which was passing a full budget. He says Congress should finish an immigration bill by the end of the year. An overhaul passed the Senate but stalled in the House.
Obama's third priority is to pass an overdue farm bill. The House and Senate are at odds on that issue, too.