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Deal struck to end US shutdown

Lawmakers agree to raise the debt limit, bringing an end to the government shutdown.

The White House in Washington, DC. Picture: Stock.XCHNG

WASHINGTON/JOHANNESBURG - US Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced a bipartisan deal on Wednesday to raise the US debt limit and end the government shutdown.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who had earlier opposed any compromise unless it defunded Obamacare, said he does not intend to delay consideration of the measure, which is expected to be approved later in the day by the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The bill extends the federal borrowing limit until 7 February 2014 and funds the government to 15 January.

It comes just a day before the deadline to raise the $16.7 trillion debt.

Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski says the bill must now pass the House.

"Once the Senate and the House vote and this passes, it will go to the president. The president will sign the legislation that reopens government."

She says this will finally restore normality in the country.

"Government then goes back to work, providing essential services and protecting the American people. And then, we also say to the world, 'We're going to pay our bills."

Up to a million federal workers were put out of work when the government went into shutdown for the first time in 17 years.

The standoff was brought when President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans clashed over healthcare reforms.

The stalemate closed museums, national parks and slowed everything from trade negotiations to medical research, while sparking new questions about the ability of a deeply divided Congress to perform its most basic functions.

More than 70 percent of the civilians working for US spy agencies have been deemed non-essential employees and now face temporary layoffs. The CIA and 15 other agencies as well as NASA and the iconic Pentagon were locked up.

It's estimated 800,000 government employees were affected.

It is still unknown what the long-term effects of the shutdown would be for both the US and the rest of the world.

Many analysts feared developing countries, including South Africa, would be hit by the economic ripple effects.

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