President Barack Obama on Monday signed into law a bipartisan budget bill that avoids a catastrophic U.S. default and puts off the next round of fighting over federal spending and debt until after next year’s presidential and congressional elections.
Obama praised the rare bipartisan cooperation behind the deal, saying the 2-year agreement that funds the government through 2017 fiscal year puts the government on a responsible path. Tuesday was the deadline for averting a default on U.S. financial obligations by raising the debt limit. The Senate gave final approval to the House-passed bill last week and sent it to Obama.
The legislation raises the limit on the government’s debt through March 2017, pushing reconsideration of what in recent years has become a contentious issue until after the elections for the White House and Congress in November 2016.
The deal would avert a looming shortfall in the Social Security disability trust fund that threatened to slash benefits, and head off an unprecedented increase in Medicare premiums for outpatient care for about 15 million beneficiaries. The cuts include curbs on Medicare payments for outpatient services provided by certain hospitals and an extension of a 2-percentage-point cut in Medicare payments to doctors through the end of a 10-year budget.
The measure also sets federal spending through the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, and eases strict caps on spending by providing an additional $80 billion, split evenly between military and domestic programs. The Appropriations committees must write legislation to reflect the spending and they face a December 11 deadline to finish the work.
The $80 billion in additional spending is paid for with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases touching areas from tax compliance to spectrum auctions.
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