Pandacam back on as US agrees debt deal

The US has raised its debt ceiling, but only temporarily. Brace yourselves for round two.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 11 Dec 2013
Narrowly averting certain global economic doom: it’s all in a day’s work for the US government, which last night finally reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling, end the shutdown and, crucially, switch on the National Zoological Park’s Panda Cam. Phew.

Under the deal (which was approved by 81 to 18 in the Senate and 285 to 144 in the House), the hundreds of thousands public sector workers who have spent the last two weeks at home could go back to work as early as today – and they’ll be given back pay for their time off.

Republicans have borne the brunt of the blame for the crisis, with many analysts pointing to their refusal to negotiate over Obamacare for holding up a deal. But it sounds like the party’s more ‘reasonable’ voices won out in the end.

‘There’s a much larger population within our caucus that recognises reality for what it is,’ Republican Aaron Schock told the Washington Post.

‘The sooner our conference recognises that we’re going to have to negotiate with the other side, the more we can get done.’

Or, as John Boehner, the Republican speaker in the House (and one of the deal’s chief negotiators) put it: ‘we fought the good fight, we just didn’t win’.

But this is a temporary deal: enforcement of the debt limit is suspended until 7 February, which means, in all likelihoods, another debt ceiling near-miss at some point in March. And the public sector is only funding until 15 January – which means Panda Cam could be down again in mid-January.

Still, markets’ relief was palpable: the FTSE All-World equity index rose 0.3% to 257.4, while the Nikkei 225 was up 1.2%.

The impact of the shutdown will last, though: Standard & Poor’s has said it shaved at least 0.6%, or $24bn, off fourth-quarter growth. And the prospect of another shutdown in mid-January could, it added, lead to a ‘humbug’ holiday season.

So fingers crossed that next time, we don’t come quite so close to the end. ‘We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,’ said President Obama. Well, quite.

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