Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives agreed on Saturday to retroactively pay 800,000 furloughed federal employees once the government reopens, but there was no end in sight to the shutdown that was in its fifth day.
The House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously and it is expected to clear the Senate and be signed by President Barack Obama. It was a rare moment of cooperation in the House as the two parties were entrenched in their positions on the shutdown.
The standoff, which began at the start of the new fiscal year on Tuesday and shuttered all but essential government operations, is the latest in a series of budget fights between Obama and Republicans.
In the past, Republicans have insisted on spending cuts as the price for budget deals or lifting of the government debt limit. Their current stand is aimed at derailing the president's landmark healthcare reform law to expand insurance to millions without coverage.
Republicans argue that the law is a massive government intrusion into private medicine that will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket, put people out of work and eventually lead to socialized medicine. They have refused to pass a funding bill without attaching measures that would undercut the law, known as Obamacare.
Obama and his fellow Democrats vow that they will make no such concessions on the funding bill or on raising the debt ceiling, which must be done by Oct. 17 to avoid default.
Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press released on Saturday that he does not expect to have to take any unusual steps to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debt because he believes Congress will raise the debt ceiling.
"I don't expect to get there," Obama said. "There were at least some quotes yesterday that Speaker Boehner is willing to make sure that we don't default," he said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican.
"And I'm pretty willing to bet that there are enough votes in the House of Representatives right now to make sure that the United States doesn't end up being a deadbeat," Obama said.