With the stroke of his pen, just after midnight Wednesday, President Obama ended the government shutdown. Congress voted in large numbers to support a Senate-designed budget bill, which reopened the government immediately and suspended the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.

The measure also contained funding for natural disasters that occurred during the shutdown and committed backpay to all those federal workers who found themselves temporarily unemployed.

It’s an obvious win for the Democrats, even if they have to fight again in just a few months. The Affordable Care Act, the original impetus for the House-led shutdown, remains intact. It has now survived challenges in all three branches of government and is more than ever firmly established as the law of the land.

Republicans took a beating in the polls, with House Speaker John Boehner carrying their banner. As elder statesmen of the Grand Old Party, such as Sen. John McCain, predicted, the public did not enjoy losing vital and even mundane government services, and mostly blamed Republicans for the shutdown.

Eighty-seven Republicans in the House and more than half in the Senate voted to fund the government, just weeks after Boehner began claiming that he didn’t have the votes.

Democrats did not escape unscathed. While voters may have blamed Republicans more, President Obama and his party also dropped in the polls, with most Americans expressing concern about the direction of the country.

It is easy to focus on the politics of this, or the more visible stories of veterans being barred from public memorials, but for millions of Americans, the shutdown meant losing basic nutrition for their babies, and access to other government programs that keep the country’s most desperate people just this side of tragedy.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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