Obama Signs Budget, Defense Bills
HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed a bipartisan budget bill easing automatic spending cuts over two years, marking a modest end to a challenging year for the White House and Congress.
The deal reduces across-the-board cuts already scheduled to take effect, restoring about $63 billion over two years. It includes a projected $85 billion in other savings.
It's not the grand bargain that Obama and congressional Republicans once had wanted, but it ends the cycle of fiscal brinkmanship for now, by preventing another government shutdown for nearly two years.
The bill signing marks one of Obama's last official acts in a year beset by the partial government shutdown, a near-default by the Treasury, a calamitous health care rollout and near-perpetual congressional gridlock.
Obama also signed into law a comprehensive defense bill that cracks down on sexual assault in the military.
The bill provides $552.1 billion for the regular military budget, plus $80.7 billion for the Afghanistan war and other overseas operations. It gives military personnel a 1 percent pay raise, but also reflects deficit-driven efforts to trim spending and the drawdown in Afghanistan after more than a decade of fighting there.
The bill signing caps a yearlong campaign led by the women of the Senate to address the scourge of rape and sexual assault in the military. Under the bill, military commanders no longer will be permitted to overturn jury convictions for sexual assault.
The White House says Obama signed the bills Thursday while vacationing in Hawaii.
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