Local parks reopen after partial government shutdown ends

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ATLANTA - Rangers are back at work at Kennesaw National Battlefield Park after President Barack Obama signed a deal that officially ended the partial government shutdown and raised the debt limit.

Channel 2’s Linda Stouffer confirmed Thursday morning the hiking and walking trails are in use again after a shutdown that led to national parks being closed across the country.

Many local hikers were frustrated by the closure. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park was officially closed Oct. 1, but people still visited the battlefield where Confederate forces tried to stop William T. Sherman's Union army from reaching Atlanta in 1864.

During the partial shutdown, park rangers tried to stand guard at the entrance of the parking lot, but people parked in a lot less than a half-mile from the entrance and walked into the park.

Thousands of other employees returned to Atlanta’s federal building Thursday morning.

The Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center is home to as many as 50 federal agencies and sub-agencies. On a normal morning, about 4,000 people work there, but for the last two weeks, only a handful of essential employees have been able to come to work each day.

Sites run by the National Parks service, including the Chattahoochee Recreation Area and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, will also reopen Thursday.

“We can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our business and from the American people,” Obama said.

Senate leaders Harry Reid  and Mitch McConnell crafted the agreement, which gives the president almost everything he wanted: a clean funding bill, debt limit increase and virtually no changes to the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill, 81 to 18.

The House approved the bill late Wednesday, 285 to 144, with most Republicans voting “no.”

House Speaker John Boehner backed down to allow the vote.

“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” Boehner said.

Tea party Republicans were not pleased with the deal. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas vowed to keep fighting and insisted this was a win.

“We saw the House of Representatives take a courageous stand listening to the American people. That was a remarkable victory to see the House engage in a profile in courage,” Cruz said.

The measure restores funding for the government through Jan. 15 and extends the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.

Ratings agency Standard & Poors said the 16-day partial shutdown took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy.

A woman described as a long-time House stenographer had to be removed from the chamber during a vote Wednesday after an outburst. Lawmakers said she was yelling about the House being divided and the devil.


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