US Government Open For Business After Deal
The US government has reopened its doors after Congress passed a last-minute deal to end the shutdown and pull the world's biggest economy back from the brink of default.
Barack Obama signed the bill after the Senate and the House approved the measure with bipartisan support following weeks of political brinkmanship.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday, the president said: "Let's be clear. There are no winners here.
"These last two weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on the US economy."
Earlier, the White House directed all agencies to reopen promptly and in an orderly fashion. Furloughed federal employees across the country returned to work.
The impasse had shuttered national parks and monuments, and mostly closed down Nasa, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department. It had forced some 800,000 federal workers to take unpaid leave.
The closure and potential default weighed on the economy and spooked the financial markets.
Standard & Poor's estimated the shutdown had taken $24bn out of the economy, and the Fitch credit rating agency warned on Tuesday that it was reviewing its AAA rating on US government debt for a possible downgrade.
There were signs early on Thursday that the federal government was slowly coming back to life.
"We're back from the #shutdown!" the Smithsonian Institution announced on Twitter, saying museums would reopen today and the National Zoo in Washington on Friday.
Yosemite National Park, one of the most popular national attractions, reopened to visitors immediately after the deal on Wednesday night.
The agreement was brokered by the Senate's top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and its Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. They stepped in after the House was unable to coalesce around a Republican-only approach on Tuesday.
The down-to-the-wire deal, however, offers only a temporary fix and does not resolve the fundamental issues of spending and deficits that divide Republicans and Democrats.
It funds the government until January 15 and raises the debt ceiling until February 7, so Americans face the possibility of another bitter budget fight and another government shutdown early next year.
Democrats and Republicans must sit down to agree a long-term budget blueprint by December 13 under the agreement.
"Hopefully next time it won't be in the 11th hour. We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis," said the president, seen by most observers as outmanoeuvring Republicans who had tried to de-fund his healthcare law.
GOP House speaker John Boehner said: "We fought the good fight, we just didn't win."
The agreement sent the stock market soaring on Wednesday, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 index close to a record high.
Across the globe, political and business leaders expressed relief.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, who had previously warned of the potential consequences of a US default for the world's economy, welcomed the deal but said the shaky American economy needs more stable long-term finances.
"It will be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner," she said in a statement.