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Obama Signs Budget Deal and Debt Limit Suspension

President Barack Obama signed the budget agreement and debt limit increase into law Monday, preventing any chance of a default on the government’s debt and lessening the chances of a government shutdown later in the year.

But Obama pointed out that appropriators still have much work to do prior to the Dec. 11 end of the continuing resolution (PL 114-53) now funding fiscal 2016 government operations.

“This is just the first step between now and the middle of December, before the Christmas break,” the president said. “The appropriators are going to have to do their job; they’re going to have to come up with spending bills.  But this provides them the guidepost and the baseline with which to do that. And I’m confident that they can get it done on time.”

The newly enacted legislation (HR 1314) will suspend the $18.1 trillion debt limit until March 15, 2017, when the borrowing ceiling would reset at the level of debt at that time.

Obama said at the signing that Republicans and Democrats came together to “set up a responsible, long-term budget process,” that will create jobs and assist the economy.

“And by locking in two years of funding, it should finally free us from the cycle of shutdown threats and last-minute fixes. It allows us to, therefore, plan for the future,” he said.

The budget portion of the deal would raise post-sequester base discretionary spending caps by $80 billion over two years – by $50 billion in fiscal 2016 and $30 billion in fiscal 2017. With the increase evenly split, the fiscal 2016 defense cap will rise to $548.1 billion while the nondefense cap will go up to $518.5 billion.

The measure also provides an additional $32 billion in funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, evenly split between the two years and also divided equally between defense and nondefense.

The plan offsets the $79.4 billion cost of raising the discretionary caps – not including the war funding – through a combination of spending cuts, asset sales and revenue increases including extending the sequester of Medicare and other mandatory spending programs an additional year through 2025.

The House and Senate passed the package last week after it was negotiated by congressional leaders and White House staff behind closed doors.

With the budget deal now enacted, appropriators in the House and Senate will proceed to craft a fiscal 2016 omnibus appropriations bill that incorporates the additional money into national security-related and domestic accounts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the deal for breaking the hold of the sequester on federal spending. “While two-thirds of Republicans voted against this compromise, Democrats were united by our values and our determination to win progress for hard-working families,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “We showed we had the votes and the resolve to sustain the President’s vetoes of funding bills that did not meet the needs of the American people.” 

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