Obama Signs Budget Agreement, Removing Default Threat

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President Obama signed budget legislation Monday that removed the immediate threat of a federal default and established overall spending levels for the next two years for “discretionary” spending on defense and most domestic programs.

Amid warnings of chaos if Congress failed to act soon on the debt limit, the House and Senate last week finally approved suspending the debt limit until March 15, 2017.

Obama and congressional leaders also negotiated a 2-year deal that provides some relief from the tight spending caps of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and should enable lawmakers to proceed with work on a spending plan for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Members of both parties have been increasingly critical of the spending caps, and Congress approved somewhat similar relief from them in 2013.

The Senate approved the new budget deal on a 64-35 vote early Friday, with all of the no votes coming from Republicans. Earlier in the week the House had approved the deal 266-167, with most Republicans opposed.

The agreement calls for some encouraging changes in Medicare and Social Security that can ideally be built upon. There are also provisions for other savings and additional revenue, although budget experts point to a number of unfortunate gimmicks.

External links:
Budget Agreement Imperfect But Acceptable Compromise (Concord)
Explanation of Bipartisan Budget Agreement (White House)
Debt Deal Truly Offsets Only Half Its Cost (CRFB)

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