Oct. 17 - A video montage of U.S. government workers in Washington returning to the grind after a 16-day shutdown. Produced by Nathan Frandino.
Federal employees returned to work Thursday (October 17) after Congress reached a last-minute deal to end the 16-day government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. A stand-off between Republicans and the White House over funding the government forced the temporary lay-off of hundreds of thousands of federal workers from October 1 and created concern that crisis-driven politics was the "new normal" in Washington. "Using the government shutdown as a bargaining chip is wrong. And I think we all know who brought that up and initiated it," said Mark Crystal, an employee of the National Museum of the American Indian. The deal offered only a temporary fix and did not resolve the fundamental issues of spending and deficits that divide Republicans and Democrats. It funds the government until January 15, so Americans face the possibility of another government shutdown early next year. Brian Varine, a Department of Energy employee, hoped lawmakers could avoid a future political battle. "They need to get together and figure out what they are going to do. And instead of painting the other guy as the bad guy, they just need to figure out, ok, what are we going to do, so we'll see what happens. I'm optimistic, but not that optimistic." Standard & Poor’s estimates that the government shutdown cost the economy $24 billion.