A budget deal has been reached in New Jersey, meaning state beaches will be open to people other than Gov. Chris Christie and his family in time for the Fourth of July holiday. Christie—who was strongly criticized for sunning himself on a beach closed to the public as part of a state government shutdown he ordered—announced Monday night that the shutdown is over and operations will return to normal after the holiday, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. Democratic leaders said they had reached a compromise with the Republican governor to end the budget standoff, which centered on the finances of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state's largest health insurer, reports Reuters.
"I'm saddened it's three days late, but I'll sign the budget tonight," Christie promised Monday night. He rejected criticism of his decision to visit Island Beach State Park. "Let's be really clear, that's our residence. We have a right to be there whenever we want to be there," he said, adding: "If I have a choice to make between my family and political optics, I choose my family," CNN reports. He told reporters he was going back to the beach after state business was done. "Whenever I get done tonight, I'll go back to the beach. That's where my family is and that's where I'll go back to," he said. (A photographer says Christie looked him "dead in the eye" as he took beach photos from a plane.)