WASHINGTON (AP) — Barriers are coming down at federal memorials and National Park Service sites, and thousands of relieved but wary federal workers have returned to work across the country.
The employees return Thursday after 16 days off the job due to the partial government shutdown. Those who were furloughed or worked without pay will get back pay in their next paychecks. For most employees, that’s Oct. 29.
Greg Bettwy works with the Smithsonian’s human resources department and says it’s important to get back to serving the public. But other returning workers confronted backlogs and voiced concern that a gridlocked Congress might trigger another shutdown in January.
Among the sites reopening Thursday are Yosemite National Park in California, the Smithsonian Institution’s network of popular museums, and the World War II memorial in Washington.
Up against a deadline, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation late Wednesday night to avoid a threatened national default and end the 16-day partial government shutdown, the culmination of an epic political drama that placed the U.S. economy at risk.
The Senate voted first, a bipartisan 81-18 at midevening. That cleared the way for a final 285-144 vote in the Republican-controlled House about two hours later on the legislation, which hewed strictly to the terms Obama laid down when the twin crises erupted more than three weeks ago.
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 2 million federal workers would be paid — those who had remained on the job and those who had been furloughed.