While vacationing in Hawaii, President Barack Obama on Thursday signed the 2013 bipartisan budget deal first announced Dec. 10 by the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee.
He also signed a defense bill that addresses, among other things, the issue of sexual assault in the military.
The Republican-controlled House passed the budget deal by a vote of 332-94 while the Democratic-controlled Senate passed it by a vote of 64-36 last week.
The deal eases 3 billion of across-the-board sequestration spending cuts over two years—5 billion in 2014 and about 8 billion in 2015—by setting spending for fiscal year 2014 at .012 trillion and .014 trillion for fiscal year 2015.
The bill finances the increased spending of 3 billion partly through savings and nontax revenues of 5 billion, providing an overall deficit reduction of 0 billion.
The deal falls short of the grand bargain both parties had hoped for but represents a significant achievement because it prevents another shutdown crisis in the next two years.
However, the threat of renewed brinksmanship over the debt ceiling in the first months of 2014 continues to hang over the nation.
The Washington Post reports that the Treasury has warned that Congress must raise the debt ceiling by early March to avert yet another risk of US government debt default.
Republicans have indicated they will demand concessions to raise the debt limit. But Obama has restated his position that he will not negotiate with Republicans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
Allvoices reported that Ryan said Republicans will insist on approval of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline as a condition to raise the debt ceiling.
Signing the budget deal is one of the last major official acts representing a positive achievement for the Obama administration in an exceptionally tumultuous year blighted by acrimonious squabbles between congressional Democrats and Republicans over the budget, the debt limit and the administration’s signature health-care law.
Obama’s biggest personal regret for 2013 will be his administration’s bungling of the rollout of the online Affordable Care Act federal exchange that nearly turned disastrous for his administration.
But having weathered the worst storms of the online exchange rollout, Obama must brace up to face other challenges to his health-care law in 2014 as Republicans gear up to exploit public discontent about the law to fight the battle for control of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections.