U.S. President Barack Obama signed a two-year budget deal Monday that ensures funding for the federal government into the first term of his successor. The signed budget comes just a day before the government was set to default on its debts and averts a government shutdown.
With the legislation, the federal debt limit was raised through March 2017 so that the government can continue to borrow money to pay bills. Before the budget deal, the Treasury Department warned that without action to raise the borrowing limit, the government would default on debts as soon as Tuesday.
The law sets aside $80 billion that will be spent on both domestic and economic concerns, as well as national security, according to the Associated Press. The funding is split between this year and next, with $50 billion set to be spent this year and $30 billion to be spent next year. The budget blueprint avoids increases in Medicare premiums that would have affected 15 million people and avoids cutting 11 million people’s Social Security disability benefits. The deal also intends to save money by selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and increasing employer costs for insuring employee pensions.
The deal puts an end to five years of bitter budget fights between the president and congressional Republicans, who have walked the federal government into shutdowns in the past. Former House Speaker John Boehner was able to secretly negotiate the bill only after he announced he was planning to resign at the end of October.
The budget agreement was finalized shortly after midnight Friday after Thursday's Senate session was extended and the legislative body voted 64-35 to send the legislation on to the president. The White House said at the time that the president would sign the law as soon as it was received, according to Reuters.
There were still areas that needed to be negotiated. Congress faces a Dec. 11 deadline to allocate the funds, and there are thousands of budget-line considerations for legislators to comb over and determine where money should be spent.
"This is just the first step between now and the middle of December, before the Christmas break," the president said Monday. "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."
Conservatives, including presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., were less than enthused by the $80 billion bill. Paul forced Thursday’s Senate session late into the night by filibustering the deal. He criticized the level of funding for continuing to appease interests on both the left and the right and for providing continued funding for the military and welfare programs. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is also running for president, said the deal failed to address what he sees as an overspending problem.