US President Barack Obama speaks about the reopening of government following a shutdown in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, October 17, 2013. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Sixteen days in October could change everything, or not much.
Will the government shutdown prove to be the turning point after three years of partisan skirmishing? Or was it just a halftime show to fire up the players?
With federal employees back at work, lawmakers are getting a chance to find a compromise on spending cuts and settle their vast differences.
If they fail, they risk a repeat shutdown in mid-January, followed a few weeks later by the recurring danger of the government defaulting on its debts.
Did Americans learn anything?
President Barack Obama says the shutdown demonstrated just how many things the government does to help people.
Conservatives saw the opposite lesson - that federal workers can disappear without being missed.
There's some evidence for both ideas.
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