WASHINGTON — Racing to meet a deadline, the Senate and House passed legislation Wednesday night to avoid a threatened national default and end the 16-day partial government shutdown along the strict terms set by President Barack Obama.
The Senate vote was a bipartisan 81-18. The House vote was 285-144. The measure now goes to Obama for his signature — the final act in an epic political drama that put the economy’s health at risk.
The legislation would permit the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer, and fund the government through Jan. 15. More than two million federal workers would be paid — those who had remained on the job and those who had been furloughed.
At the White House, Obama hailed the Senate’s vote. Once the measure reaches his desk, he said, “I will sign it immediately. We’ll begin reopening our government immediately and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty from our businesses and the American people.”
The stock market surged higher at the prospect of an end to the crisis that also had threatened to shake confidence in the U.S. economy overseas.
The White House embraced the bill, worked out by the Senate’s two party leaders, saying in a statement it would “protect the full faith and credit of the United States and end the government shutdown.”
Republicans had other concerns. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” conceded House Speaker John Boehner as lawmakers lined up to vote on a bill that includes nothing for Republicans demanding to eradicate or scale back Obama’s signature health care overhaul.
“The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, declaring that the nation “came to the brink of disaster” before sealing an agreement.