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October 01, 2013

Shutdown ends

The 16-day government shutdown ended Oct. 17 when President Obama signed P.L. 113-46 (H.R. 2775), legislation that continues most of the federal government at fiscal year 2013 sequestration levels through Jan. 15, 2014, and lifts the nation’s debt ceiling through Feb. 7, 2014.

The final deal came after House Republicans dropped their efforts to combine a continuing appropriations measure with provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act, the law to provide wider availability of health care. The only health care provision in the agreement requires stricter eligibility verification procedures for those applying for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.

P.L. 113-46 also sets up a conference for the House and Senate to craft a fiscal year 2014 budget resolution and lays out a deadline of Dec. 13 for Congress to develop a framework for all 12 fiscal year 2014 appropriations bills. Furloughed federal employees will receive retroactive pay, but the federal pay freeze will continue until Jan. 15, 2014. Congress will be prohibited from receiving a pay increase for fiscal year 2014 under the law.

While keeping most of the government at current reduced fiscal year 2013 levels, the agreement did provide an additional $51 million for the federal judiciary, which includes $25 million for court operations and $26 million for court-appointed public defenders.

Also receiving additional funding was the Social Security Administration for conducting disability reviews and the Department of Veterans Affairs for speeding up its disability claims process.

The day the shutdown began, ABA President James R. Silkenat called it a “historic failure that imperils justice in our country” and urged members of Congress to “end the scorched earth tactics and send a budget to the president.”

 “The political brinksmanship that brought our government to a standstill reflects the same intransigence and unwillingness to compromise that imposed sequestration on our national government and hardships on many who contract with, work for, or receive non-entitlement benefits from the federal government,” he said.

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