More than 5,500 Utah workers employed with the Internal Revenue Service -- 5,295 of those in the greater Ogden area -- returned to the job Thursday after Congress lifted the nation's debt ceiling by $1 trillion and ended the 16-day partial government shutdown.
Bill Brunson, an IRS spokesman, said about 10 percent of all IRS workers were kept on during the shutdown because of their assigned duties.
"It is very nice to be back," said Brunson, who is in IRS offices in Phoenix.
Life was returning to normal at Hill Air Force Base as well.
"Hill had nearly 2,700 people furloughed during the government shutdown, but the majority of those employees returned to work on Oct. 7, because of the Pay Our Military Act," said Col. Fred Thaden, 75th Air Base Wing vice commander.
People affected by the furlough during the first week of October received only 60 percent of their normal paycheck. Comptroller officials are working to recoup that pay for affected employees in accordance with legislation already signed into law, Thaden said in a news release to the Standard-Examiner.
Some base facilities, such as the library and Hill Aerospace Museum in Roy, which were closed during the shutdown, have reopened. The library opened Thursday. The museum opens at 9 a.m. today.
The majority of Utah's congressional delegation voted against Wednesday's bill that ended the shutdown and staved off a national default on the bills the country owes.
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, cast votes in favor of the legislation, while Republicans Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Rep. Chris Stewart, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop voted against the bill that cleared the House and Senate and was immediately signed by President Barack Obama.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, voted 81-18 in passing the legislation, while the Republican-controlled House voted 285-144 in favor of the bill.
Bishop said he voted against the bill because of the "poison pills" in it, including how it gives the military less flexibility in addressing future sequestration; how it "kicks the can down the road" toward another potential government furlough in January, when the three-month period the bill addressed elapses; and the way it raised the debt ceiling by $1 trillion without identifying cuts.
Bishop also bemoaned what he termed "hidden problems" inserted into the bill that won't be discovered until there is further public scrutiny of it.
"If we are hitting the debt ceiling, we are obviously having a problem with our spending," Bishop said.
And he said he has yet to find a Republican on the Armed Services Committee who voted for the legislation, as they made efforts to protect those constituents who are in the military.
In addition, Bishop said he spoke on the House floor Wednesday in favor of some type of language assuring federal workers would receive the back pay they are owed.
"I'm happy they're back," Bishop said of the thousands of IRS employees in his district.
"We were trying to look out for them. They had not caused this," he said of the shutdown.
"At the beginning of the day, I was hopeful that this could be a clean bill," Bishop said, looking forward to ending the shutdown. But he was disheartened by the language in the bill approved by the Senate, he said, and in good conscience could not vote for it.
"All of this, in my estimation, could have been avoided. We would have never had the shutdown had the sides met to discuss the issue."
Stewart, representing Utah's 2nd Congressional District, said he opposed the bill lifting the debt ceiling because it contained no spending cuts.
"I've been in a long fight to protect the American people from the terribly destructive effects of Obamacare, a fight that has included more than a dozen votes to defund, delay or modify the bill, as well as to extract any kind of spending concessions from the administration to help solve our nation's long-term debt," Stewart said in a news release.
"On all fronts, the president and Senate Democrats have turned us away."
Any increase of the debt ceiling must be coupled with spending and entitlement reforms that will balance the budget and allow the country to begin paying down its debt, he said.
"Our national debt, which will double under this administration, is now approaching $17 trillion. We simply can't keep spending money that we don't have."
But local Democrats have a different take on the issue.
"Of all of Utah's delegation, Matheson and Hatch were the only ones to rise above party and petty political battles to do what's right for their constituents, for Utah and their country," Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said in a prepared statement.
"We appreciate their leadership, and their willingness to put the American people first."
And Bishop's Democratic challengers for 2014 were quick to pounce.
The stand taken by Bishop affected the livelihoods of thousands of Utahns, which is not being fiscally conservative, said Donna McAleer, who is making a second run at Bishop.
"Representative Bishop continues to put politics first," she said. "Shutting down the government for pure politics gets nothing done."
"I am very disappointed in last night's vote by Congressman Bishop. By his vote, Bishop is placing his own personal political agenda ahead of the needs of the hardworking men and women in our district," said Peter Clemens, who is also challenging Bishop.
"This action provides another example, that fair-minded reasonable people will see, of a callous disregard for the suffering this shutdown has caused in the lives of thousands of Utah families."
Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.